It is apparent that when George Gershwin wrote the lyrics to “Summertime,” he never had the experience of working in a bakery. When it’s summer in a bakery, “the livin’” isn’t easy, and the preparation for the sometimes-brutal heat takes work.
An outside walkthrough is a good start. At ground level, areas that take a beating in the winter need a closer look: walkways, steps, doors and dock seals, gutters and downspouts, paved areas and more. The roof also requires inspection, specifically the roofing membrane, flashing, drains, pitch pots, curbing, ballast, ventilation equipment, support structures, guard rails, and stack rain guards. If wet insulation is suspected — look for water bubbling up as you walk on the roof or visible wet spots — an infrared (IR) scan of the roof will identify areas that need to be remediated.
Most importantly, however, ensure the bakery ventilation system is operating at the most optimal level. Conduct a thorough preventive maintenance inspection. Make sure the ventilation equipment is ready by replacing filters, inspecting belts, drives, motors, safeties, electrical panels and connections. And, above all, lubricate the equipment. On air-conditioning units, check the refrigeration charge and its controls. Inspecting and sanitizing the ducts and vents of the bakery’s ventilation system is another critical step to prepare for warmer weather. Additionally, it’s a good time to take a step back and look at the design of the ventilation system. The bakery should be under slightly positive pressure — bringing in more air to the bakery than is being exhausted — to minimize the introduction of dust and mold spores into the plant.
Proper air flow is also a factor in achieving optimal performance and efficiency of an oven. If it is a struggle to open an outside door, it’s likely the bakery is running at negative pressure. This can draw combustion exhaust back into the facility and affect the combustion system of ovens, boilers and other systems.
Electrical systems should get a once-over prior to summer. An IR scan provides a quick way to look at the quality of connections, component performance and load conditions. Electrical cabinets should be checked for dust buildup and cleaned as needed. Cooling systems need to have their filters and coils cleaned and unit functionality checked.
Additionally, inspection and lubrication go a long way with the bakery’s refrigeration and freezing systems. Check the system pressures; they provide a good indication of its overall health. Recording the data provides a useful history to have available for comparative purposes. Dirty condenser coils may cause a 30% loss in unit efficiency. Dirty evaporator coils may also reduce air flow within the production unit leading to extended cooling and freezing times. Dirty evaporator coils also negatively affect the defrost cycle, reducing overall efficiency and extending defrost times.
Compressed air systems are also vulnerable to the extremes of heat and humidity. There is four to five times the amount of water in the air during peak summer months compared with winter. That increases the load on air dryers. Replace the inline filters, and ensure the drain system is cycling and functional. Ensure the mechanical room where the compressor is located provides adequate filtered air. Lastly, treating receivers and lines to prevent mold contamination and changing or cleaning the individual equipment air filters is a smart way to enter the summer season.
Jim Kline is a contributing editor for Baking & Snack and founder of The EnSol Group. Connect with Mr. Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.