After the recent surge in demand for retail bread and other packaged baked foods, enterprising bakers ramped up production by adding more mixing, dividing and other processing systems. But how do bakers expand ingredient handling capacity in the near term until they can add silos or make major capital investments that might require a time-consuming facility expansion?

Upgrading technology only takes a little logical thinking, according to Baking & Snack’s report on ingredient handling technology in its March issue. For example, dual-outlet discharges allow for multiple lines to be fed simultaneously, which can double the conveying capacity. Bakers can focus on the blower, valve and tubing designs to optimize performance to accelerate the system’s flow rate of ingredients.

Another option involves intermediate bins, which are generally only 10% to 25% of the storage capacity of the silo and can be placed inside the building near high demand production equipment. These bins provide additional storage as well as a buffer should silos require downtime. Likewise, bulk bag stations or totes can be easily incorporated into a variety of ingredient handling and batching systems.

Still another option involves software upgrades, especially on older equipment, that streamline the delivery and provide valuable notifications of ingredient levels and for reordering them. It can also send notifications of system operation abnormalities to prevent downtime and adjust system operations to maximize efficiency. Moreover, installing variable-speed drives can fine-tune the efficient metering of ingredients.

All it takes is a little ingenuity for bakers to buy a little more time before making that big investment that will make them better operators in the long run.