Scaling up artisan bread production means doing more with less: More time-consuming production with less space and possibly fewer people.

“We have seen traditional bakeries add equipment to their facilities to meet increased demand,” said Andrew McGhie, director of sales, Shaffer, a Bundy Baking Solution. “These bakeries always struggle with space.”

Working with more dough without the luxury of more square feet, artisan bakers need space-saving solutions, and that usually comes from above.

“Our large, wide conveyors can be speed-controlled to take advantage of overhead space,” said John McIsaac, vice-president of business development, Reiser. “We also offer a reversing option to feed multiple dividers automatically.”

Topos Mondial Corp. also takes advantage of overhead space with its conveyors when extra floor time is needed before dividing.

“We can chunk the dough, elevate it and put it on a series of slow-moving belts above,” said Damian Morabito, president and chief executive officer, Topos “It’s almost like a small fermentation room or cabinet.”

The belt can be enclosed to avoid any risks of temperature change that come with elevating the dough. This also gives artisan bakers the same control they can get from physically overseeing the dough on the ground level.

“It provides consistent, manageable rest time,” Mr. Morabito said.

Old-school artisan bakers are becoming fewer and farther between.

“Space is only one issue for artisan bakers,” said Ferdinand Kottier, director of sales, WP Bakery Group, noting that fermentation, automation and process control are also factors.

To check these boxes, WP Bakery Group offers customized solutions based on an artisan baker’s individual needs.

Artisan bread production is also a traditionally labor-intensive process, and automation protects the workers involved.

“If you run 30,000 lbs of dough into a divider, and you’re feeding it all by hand, that’s affecting your rotator cuff,” Mr. Morabito said. “One rotator cuff injury is all you need to justify the cost of chunkers and elevators on the line.”

When it comes to efficiently moving artisan dough downstream, automation plays a key role.

“Automation also makes for better employee retention, so it’s not just about working with fewer people,” Mr. Morabito said. “It’s also about making the job a little easier for the people you have.”

And that can keep things running smoothly.

This article is an excerpt from the October 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Dough Handling, click here.