With icing, frosting and more sophisticated decorating, the slightest error will ruin the appearance of the handheld snack, elegant cake or an indulgent dessert.

“The degree of accuracy is governed by the design of the system, components used, and the properties of the liquid or slurry being applied,” said Norm Searle, sales and marketing, GOE/Amherst Stainless Fabrication. “Today’s systems have considerably improved accuracy due to improved measurement devices and improved control of variables such as flow, pressure and temperature.”

He noted the recovery of any unapplied liquid or slurry during and after the production cycle greatly reduces waste. Moreover, on high-speed lines, eliminating mist migration beyond the spraying station controls ingredient costs and prevents unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

To automate the production of cakes with a special occasion appearance, Unifiller integrated servo motors and a recipe recall system to develop its ACIS round cake decorating and SKIL sheet cake decorating lines.

“It’s possible for a bakery to program all its cake decorating specifications into a line and adjust the line setting to each product’s profile,” said Sonia Bal, director of marketing at Unifiller Systems. “Servo systems can also collect and provide useful data on production rates, cycles and deposits. These depositors offer a user-friendly PLC screen and can be integrated into a larger production system in responder mode.”

She added that automation eliminates inconsistent products while allowing bakeries to scale up and create more decorated cakes in less time.

“Once they’ve developed a recipe that customers absolutely love, it’s important to consistently have repeatable results,” Ms. Bal said.

She pointed out that Unifiller recently collaborated with Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss to automate cake production using servo motors that provided the optimal spread control of buttercream with a reduced need for touch-ups. The system also conducts performance monitoring, collecting data on production rates, cycles and deposits.

“For a local bakery, semi-automated solutions like incorporating a Cake-O-Matic can go a long way in saving time in the base coating of their cakes,” Ms. Bal said. “A consistent base coating can be a great foundation for any type of artisanal finish on a cake.”

Martin Riis, director of sales and marketing, Apex Motion Control, is seeing the adaptation of high-level automation, such as robotics, to help create snack cakes and cakes with a homemade look.

“Consumers still want to believe that the cupcake or cookie they just bought was made for them in a bakery by bakers,” he said. “Wholesale bakeries and commissaries are working closely with equipment manufacturers in order to develop bakery products that will work well with the equipment.”

Today, he added, robotics remove non-value-added tasks such as loading and unloading pans and trays from racks to conveyors. Cobots, or collaborative robots, also assist with primary and secondary packaging.

“Our Baker-Bot cobot is safe to work with alongside human staff members and will allow companies to repurpose their staffs to more value-added positions and in the process, help remove repetitive strain injuries and claims,” Mr. Riis said.

For decorating, he noted, Apex’s Deco-Bot can drizzle, write words and make rosettes with artistic appeal.

From nut and chocolate toppings to cream on top or inside the cakes, AMF Tromp provides targeted applications of decorations on the top of the product to reduce waste, noted Hans Besems, product group leader, AMF Tromp, an AMF Bakery Systems brand

The AMF Tromp Target Applicator adjusts to the type of ingredients it’s applying to prevent spilling and provide cost savings on cake and snack cake lines.

“AMF Tromp Waterfall Applicators integrate into existing lines, and we use recirculation to decorate sustainably and because we reuse materials, nothing gets lost,” Mr. Besems said.

By taking the complexity out of production, the latest advances in technology take the cake in ways that enhance product quality and contribute to the bottom line.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Cake Processing, click here.