New pan bread production equipment can be ­intimidating. Today’s market demands make it even more daunting with bakers moving from dedicated lines turning out thousands of loaves of one product to managing changeovers to produce bread of varying absorption rates and bake profiles. From mixing to cooling, bread production requires a lot of equipment, handoffs and parameters to plan for, manage and get just right.

When it’s appropriate for the product portfolio, investing in a turnkey production line can simplify the planning, installation and lifetime maintenance of these massive investments.

“Turnkey means different things to different people,” said Bruce Campbell, vice-president, global product technology, AMF Bakery Systems. “Turnkey can mean that someone supplies all of the equipment on one contract. Turnkey can mean you supply all of the equipment, service and installations so the bakery doesn’t do anything.”

So, the first question Mr. Campbell asks bakers is, “What do you mean by turnkey?” Does the bakery want to control the mechanical and electrical contractors or does it want the equipment supplier to manage them? Does the bakery want operators to simply walk in on day one and turn on the production line, or does it want more involvement than that? Deciding the level of involvement will help bakers decide how turnkey they would like the new pan bread line to be.

Commissioning a turnkey line comes with some perks, including the simplicity of working with fewer suppliers and a cohesiveness across the equipment and controls.

Streamline with fewer variables

The most obvious upside of a turnkey line is limiting the number of equipment manufacturers involved.

“It’s beneficial for bakers to use as few vendors as possible to integrate pieces,” said Mike Scouten, vice-president, sales and marketing, The Middleby Group.

This streamlines not only the line design and installation but also production efficiencies as well as any maintenance or repairs that need to be made throughout the life cycle of the equipment.

A production line contains many different sub-systems: ingredient handling, mixing, dividing and forming, proofing, and baking, all before being cooled, packaged and distributed. With most — or in some cases, all — of these systems supplied by one vendor, bakers work with the same team to engineer the line to their products’ needs and specifications.

“With complete turnkey solutions, the whole line is designed according to the requested products and capacities,” said Erik Rensen, area sales manager, Kaak Group.

The company can deliver to a baker all the necessary components for a turnkey production line.

Pan Bread Line“This means that we calculate the capacities for every component,” Mr. Rensen said. “Each machine will be engineered based on the requested capacity. Therefore, there are no limiting factors in the equipment, and the output of the line is at optimal efficiency.”

When one supplier provides all systems, it streamlines the transitions between processes.

“Each one of these sub-systems has the same look and feel,” Mr. Campbell said. “The handoffs have to be precise and seamless from one sub-system to another.”

This can be particularly important when creating a bread line that can also process artisan bread. These bread varieties, often formulated without improvers, require delicate handling throughout production to preserve their open cell structures.

“A dough without improvers is less stable than an industrial dough,” said Hans Herman Doude, vice-president of sales, AMF Tromp. “A turnkey production line from a single supplier ensures smooth and balanced product transfer.”

AMF Den Boer developed a drive with unique software for Den Boer step proofers that provides a smooth journey for peel boards and baking trays as they move through the proofer.

Automation brings control

Automation is the main reason transitions from one piece of equipment to the next are so seamless.

“We’re always trying to bake more bread with fewer people,” Mr. Scouten said. “With our bread and bun lines, from proofing to packaging you can have just a handful of people covering that part of the process. It’s almost unattended compared to the front and back ends of the production line.”

Streamlining automation and reducing labor requires controls. When one company is designing and building all the equipment on a production line, those machines can look and feel the same because they are using the same software to communicate with each other and the operators.

“At AMF, we have a common operator interface screen layout and mapping design philosophy of how the operator is interacting with the machine through that HMI,” Mr. Campbell said. “Whether it’s a production supervisor, maintenance engineer or someone training operators, there are going to be a lot of similarities in the way I interact as I go from the mixer to the bagger.”

AMF can actually install an entire turnkey bakery line with only two sizes of HMIs, Mr. Campbell said. This makes the lines easier to support. The company also offers its AMFConnect program that enables bakers to aggregate data from every machine to compile a report about the entire baking process. Through this system, bakers can remotely monitor the process. Because AMF offers an entire production line, each sub-system is ready for AMFConnect.

“If we have that full system, we can visualize all the data from your equipment versus just part of the line,” Mr. Campbell pointed out.

With this much consolidated data, bakers can look at historical trends and troubleshoot issues that may come up during production. If baked foods are running outside of specifications, operators can see the issue sooner and trace it back to the source.

Consolidated controls also help lines become more flexible and make it even easier for operators to change parameters.

“Several HMI control panels, located at strategic points along the line, give the operator access to the parameters of the equipment,” Mr. Rensen said. “With a product change, all the settings of the entire line will automatically change. This will keep failures to a minimum and improve the production output and efficiency.”

This article is an excerpt from the February 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on pan bread processing, click here.