The new Linxis North American Technology Center at Shick Esteve’s Kansas City, Mo., headquarters was built to inspire bakers from the ground up by combining the equipment process capabilities and expertise of Linxis Group company partners — DIOSNA, Unifiller and VMI.

Shick Esteve, a member of Linxis Group, Nantes, France, expanded its existing 3,500-square-foot test lab into a state-of-the art temperature-controlled joint testing, training and education center. The nearly 15,000-square-foot facility, which opened in December, also functions as Shick Esteve’s North American Research and Development Center.

The technology center’s primary function is testing and demonstrating the latest in industry-leading ingredient automation, mixing and pre-dough technologies, as well as cutting-edge process control and industrial internet of things (IIoT) technology. This includes full automation and precise dosing of dry and liquid ingredient streams as well as peripheral processes such as dry ingredient chilling and powder blending.

Integrated data collection and process controls have been taken to another level through Clarity by Shick Esteve. Aaron Irvin, director of systems and products, Shick Esteve, said that the technology center provides the latest controls technology with IO-Link remote I/O devices throughout the system. The PlantPAx/Factory Talk SE displays live data tracking and analysis during the testing process. There are four large video boards displaying real-time data and trending at the individual component and overall system level. This means the customer can further demonstrate the value of performance data, aiding in root cause analysis and preventing run-to-failure mode. This will lead to increased up time and maximize production capacity, Mr. Irvin said.

While Linxis Group companies focus on hygienic design for all their equipment, they also incorporated it into every facet of the technology center, starting with the building itself. The facility was constructed with the latest in hygienic design. “Whether it is the floor, equipment supports, installation materials and concepts, all the way to the wall curbs, floor drains and ceiling material; everything was designed with ease of sanitation in mind,” Mr. Irvin stated.

At the technology center, flexibility is key to provide — in one facility — complete confidence that a baker’s automation needs will be met. Not only does it offer complete proof of concept through the mixing phase to baking, but the facility can also incorporate equipment from supplier partners to create a multitude of bakery products.

“The Linxis North American Technology Center was designed and built to show our current and prospective customers how the latest in ingredient automation, dough technology and process controls can benefit their business,” said Jason Stricker, director of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve. “Customers can test specific aspects of automated ingredient systems, mixing and dough technology, all the way to a complete proof of concept from ingredient delivery through mixing and baking.”

In addition to providing an environment where bakers can experience the latest innovations in equipment and technology, the facility is equipped with a conference area that can be transformed into a classroom-style setting for deeper dives into product development and system training. This versatile area will also enable collaborations with baking companies, industry associations or partnering suppliers to host workshops, seminars and other learning opportunities.

From providing hands-on experience with equipment to instant access to IIoT data to ample space for training and ideation, the Linxis North American Technology Center inspires bakers because it doesn’t just speak of great possibilities; it demonstrates them.