TETERBORO, N.J.—The new bakery lab at the Teterboro Rheon USA office provides bakers 9,000 square feet to test new ideas, perfect processing needs and push their companies forward.
The lab, which opened in October 2018, houses about $2 million worth of Rheon equipment available to potential and existing customers. The center was designed for bakers to not only formulate new products but also refine and validate the process from mixing through the proofing and baking steps. It’s something that the company insists on.
“Rheon’s policy has always been for our customers to use their own ingredients to test the equipment they intend to purchase,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales, Rheon USA. “This allows us to show them what they can expect from our machines, and it also allows us to fine-tune our machines to more accurately provide a customer with the product they are looking for.”
Rheon has given bakers the opportunity to try out its machines in advance for years, but this larger innovation center provides more equipment and variables. The company also operates an innovation center on the West coast in Irvine, Calif.
There are three types of equipment at the new East coast lab. The co-extrusion technology can make value-added filled products. These machines have two or more hoppers that can hold different materials to create inventive products. Many of them are ethnic baked foods that fit the needs of bakers looking to capitalize on the globalization of food.
“When we look around the world, we see almost every culture has a filled food product that helps define its heritage,” Mr. Giacoio said.
Stress-free artisan bread equipment helps bakers ranging from small independent niche operators to the global behemoths that need to turn out several tons of product an hour. The equipment gently handles long floor-time dough, which allows Rheon to create bread with similar qualities of handmade. Companies using the test equipment have processed dough well into the 80% hydration range.
The third type of equipment includes sheeting and make-up lines that are capable of making croissants, Danish, donuts, pizza, pita and other products of various shapes
All equipment in the innovation center allows smaller bakers to find ways to produce their baked foods on a larger scale without sacrificing their methods or high standards.
“We don’t want to reinvent a customer’s product,” Mr. Giacoio said. “We just want to automate the process, giving them more consistency and the same or better quality. We don’t believe a customer should have to compromise on quality just to automate.”
Rheon also uses the innovation center as a place to introduce North American bakers to new ideas through education and demonstration events. Mr. Giacoio noted the company hosts themed seminars on a regular basis that provide live demonstrations of products gaining popularity across the globe. The company also hosts networking events to inspire collaboration and innovation.
Additionally, private seminars help large companies seeking to expand their offerings in the market. During new product testing seminars, a staff of specialists can run tests up to five days a week. To maintain confidentiality, Rheon only allows one customer per day in the facility, which also drives up demand for the space. Because a test is a prerequisite for a purchase of Rheon technology, the facilities are busy places.
“Customers have certain expectations before purchasing a piece of equipment,” Mr. Giacoio said. “The new innovation center allows us to understand their expectations and how to achieve them.”