KANSAS CITY — When it comes to mixing, bakeries are focused on higher production rates, labor reduction, energy savings and other types of sustainability-related technology as the industry heads toward the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), to be held Sept. 17-22 in Las Vegas.

Boosting capacity is being driven by continued strong consumer demand for packaged bread and other baked foods at the retail level while foodservice is making steady progress as it rebounds toward pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, industry experts interviewed for Baking & Snack’s June mixing technology feature noted that bakers have shifted to fewer SKUs. Because of labor and supply chain issues, variety is being reduced to ensure bakers have their best-selling products available to their customers. Here is where automation can help with labor shortages while maintaining capacity and providing front end controls to the production process through recipe management and digital controls.

To reduce labor in the mixing department, bakers are turning to automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) for trough or bowl movement. While the industry is seeing fewer traditional sponge-and-dough operations, artisan bakeries want floor time between the final mixer and processing the dough. AGVs and laser-guided vehicles allow these bakeries to produce authentic artisan bread with long fermentation time. The AGV grabs the bowl, stores it in a fermentation room for a set time and later takes it to the bowl lift to the processing line automatically.

At IBIE 2022, bakers will be looking for automation that allows their bakeries to meet the demand for their products despite the many challenges that companies face in the marketplace.