Sometimes a bakery needs a scientific approach to take it to the next level.
That’s where Vincent van der Hulst comes in. He’s a certified master baker who has the art of baking down pat. But he’s also a food technologist, so he appreciates the scientific and educational aspect of baking as well. In his role as food and bakery technologist for AMF Bakery Systems, he helps elevate bakeries to their full potential.
Increasing productivity is just one goal but so is improving quality and consistency. Finding a balance between these considerations takes experience and scientific know-how.
Mr. van der Hulst found baking through studying food process technology. He earned a degree in food and bakery technology from HAS University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. From the beginning, his main interest has been in food processing equipment and how it impacts the quality of baked goods.
“After completion of my study, it was a logical step to look for a company that produced equipment for the bakery industry,” he said. “At that time, AMF had recently opened its Innovation Center, so my application hit the bullseye.”
Since then, he’s been based at AMF’s Gorinchem facility in The Netherlands. One thing he’s learned is that the success of a customer is always a combination of the right ingredients, the right equipment and a well-thought-out production process. Mr. van der Hulst assists customers by carefully reviewing their entire production process before dividing it into specific steps.
“After naming each process step, it’s possible to determine the requirements within each step,” he said. “By handling it this way, it’s possible to optimize every single step of the process while selecting the most ideal equipment in order to bring the whole production process to a higher level.”
Beyond that, he explained, this analysis offers the possibility to discover the root cause of any problems occurring on a line.
In his role, Mr. van der Hulst performs this thorough evaluation inside a bakery plant. He knows that if a flour duster at the beginning of the line doesn’t work properly — either because it was not properly adjusted or the wrong flour was used — it can negatively impact the rest of the process.
“By solving these problems, the performance of the entire production line increases,” he said. “This puts a smile on the face of our customers.”
Knowing the value of multidisciplinary work, he also takes this approach when working with the AMF’s R&D teams.
“When the topic is viewed from different perspectives, both technical and technological, the craftmanship of an artisan baker is translated into the industrial bakery process,” he said.
As a master baker, Mr. van der Hulst can merge artisan baking styles with industrial machines. Every baking company is different, and every line within a bakery is different. Adapting to new surroundings is essential to success. One way to do this is through factory acceptance tests (FATs).
“During an FAT, the new production line of the customer is controlled by one of our master bakers,” he explained. “Prior to this, the baker has worked together with the project team to ensure a properly functioning machine.”
After the equipment is accepted, it is shipped to the customer and installed by AMF field service engineers. A master baker then ensures that the production line is started up at the customer site. After training the operators, the baker leaves only when the whole production line is up and running successfully.
This ability to educate and train operators is critical as the workforce gap in industry experience remains a challenge for bakers across the world.
“Although the master baker role is very diverse, an important part of our job is training operators,” Mr. Van der Hulst said. “We develop comprehensive training courses to bring the knowledge level of operators to a higher level. By empowering bakery teams, we help bakeries reduce turnover and increase productivity.”
Through technical training, a scientific approach and a baker’s touch, Mr. van der Hulst and the AMF team supply solutions for sustained success.