Artisan bakeries can automate their ingredient handling in many ways to reduce labor and heavy lifting while preserving the art of baking. In many ways, it’s not that much different from the way other small to mid-sized companies streamline their operations with semiautomatic ingredient weighing and batching.

“The semiautomatic hand prompt or kitchen-type batching system provides a control accuracy of ingredient weighing, well-documented formulas, and the existence and implementation of ingredient lot tracking to ensure food safety and compliance,” noted Don Goshert, general manager, Sterling Systems & Controls. “The artisan baked goods are still handmade to the artisan formula, but with more consistency in quality and more efficiency.”

John Hunter, sales account manager, bakery and ingredient handling, Bühler Group, said recipe management systems can control the scheduling of production and monitor how the ingredients are being added to the mixer.

“It reduces the risk of an operator making a mistake in an artisan bakery,” he said. 

Many artisan bakeries rely on dozens of different ingredients to often produce hundreds of SKUs for retail and foodservice accounts. Nathan Davis, sales engineer, The Fred D. Pfening Co., recommended automating those ingredients that a bakery uses most each week. 

“Those are your best ingredients for automation,” he said. “There are going to be some unusual ingredients that aren’t worth automating today because you only use them seasonally or to make a small run of their products.”

Doan Pendleton, president of Vac-U-Max, concurred that automation allows bakeries to duplicate their formulation, increase production and provide customers with batch consistency.

“Automation does not necessarily mean large-scale, or that only the big bakeries can afford or adopt it,” he said. “Vacuum conveying affords accurate recipes and reduced labor costs in small batches, too.” 

This article is an excerpt from the May 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Ingredient Handling, click here.