Nobody has time to deal with something that’s high maintenance. To enhance a bakery’s performance, ovens now come with several advances such as predictive lubrication for oven chains or digital controls that control temperature, energy consumption, exhaust and moisture levels, noted Phil Domenicucci, baking systems specialist, AMF Bakery Systems.

In addition, secure networking allows for daily cloud uploads to analyze production throughput vs. fuel consumption while feed-forward loops connect the different areas of the bakery to increase efficiency.

“All of these technologies will give the baker a better understanding of oven operation and efficiencies and lead to more predictive maintenance,” Mr. Domenicucci said. “The oven is no longer a black box with a time and temperature dial.”

To optimize oven efficiency, Mecatherm has developed a new predictive maintenance application, called M-CARE. This option relies on digital monitoring to anticipate potential breakdowns.

“M-CARE is a connected service which provides predictive analysis,” explained Marie Laisne, product marketing manager, Mecatherm. “Through the application, data are collected, analyzed continuously and an alert is sent out as soon as a drift or anomaly is detected. This predictive maintenance system enables operators to anticipate unscheduled downtime as well as provide easy-to-use training tools and user-friendly guidance to support their problem solving.”

The launch of this new application began in 2021 with some of Mecatherm’s equipment, and the company aims at providing this digital service for all its systems.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication for Ondrej Nikel, PhD, director of engineering, Topos Mondial.

“As an engineer, I always like deleting features from the design,” he said. “The best oven is extremely simple, and that’s what most bakers need. Any way you can avoid complexity will make an oven less maintenance dependent.”

Dr. Nikel described the J4 oven as a “conveyor in a thermally insulated box” with just rollers and bearings and lots of heat.

“We can automate all of the controls on the oven, but you may need a laptop to troubleshoot it, or we can give you a relay-logic control panel with a temperature readout and a series of relays,” he said.

That simplicity is something that convection ovens typically offer over direct-gas-fired (DGF) ones. Ken Zvoncheck, director of process technology, Reading Bakery Systems, noted a six-zone DGF oven may have up to 300 burners, while a six-zone convection oven has only six.

“Granted, the convection has a different kind of burner, but from a simplicity point of view, you have only six burners versus 300,” he said.

Many reliable ovens can operate for long periods of time with little maintenance.

“Therein lies a too-common potential problem,” observed Ken Johnson, president, Gemini Bakery Equipment. “Out-of-sight. Out of mind.”

So what’s the secret for making maintenance easier?

“Conduct periodic inspections,” Mr. Johnson added. “Correct the minor issues before they become major ones.”

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