A way bakers can separate their pies from the competition is through decorating them after they’re filled and/or topped with a crust. Some bakers want the hand-made look of grandma’s pies. Some want precision and consistency. Today’s technology is enabling bakers to go above and beyond in automating their decorating process.

As Rick Hoskins, chief executive officer, Colborne Foodbotics, explained, servo technology is opening new opportunities for bakers to automate sophisticated products with lattice tops or trim that looks handmade.

Whether pies are topped or not, decoration units can be integrated into AMF Tromp production lines. Target applicator equipment can spread nuts, cheese, sprinkles or chocolate on the pie, giving it an attractive finish for consumers.

Robotics can also replace repetitive tasks when it comes to decorating, especially when producing more complicated pies.

“The application of robotics in bakery production has reached a level where robots can now do virtually anything a human hand can do, especially when paired with servo-driven depositors,” said Mauricio Nahum, international applications manager, Unifiller Systems.

Unfiller partners with Apex Motion Control to provide pie bakers the Baker-Bot and Deco-Bot for finishing.

Today’s robots can complete simple tasks like loading and unloading trays and pies, or they can accomplish more complicated ones like custom decorating or writing a message on the top of a pie. This ability makes decorating pies more efficient and consistent and frees up labor for tasks that require more skills. However, robotics require a significant initial investment, one not every bakery may be ready to make. Mr. Nahum recommended handing the simple, repetitive tasks to the robots and leaving more complicated ones to the humans when starting out.

“The newest, most advanced robots can even operate safely alongside people and can adapt their motions based on dimensional variations in the products they are decorating,” Mr. Nahum said.

The latest technology has opened up a world of product development for pie bakers as they try to reinvigorate their category. Modular equipment designed from the ground up to enable fast changeovers ensures that bakers can get creative without losing out on capacity, which is really all any baker wants.

This article is an excerpt from the December 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on pie processing, click here.