KANSAS CITY — With energy prices the highest in more than a decade, maintaining an oven’s efficiency pays off more than it has in the past. However, sometimes that’s an idea easier said than done. That’s because bakeries are unable to recruit and retain maintenance personnel and bakery engineers as in previous years. As a result, even tasks as basic as maintaining the burners, which are the heart of an oven, are often ignored.

In Baking & Snack’s July coverage on oven technology, subject matter experts provide simple tips, such as rotating ribbon burners through the maintenance shop on a regular basis instead of trying to do all of them at once. Keep a few extra burners on hand so the maintenance department can continuously clean the burners and keep them tuned as a part of solid preventative maintenance.

Another tip involves checking oven installation, which can be damaged by improper maintenance or become less effective if the layers take on any water. Besides retaining heat, a well-insulated oven can improve working conditions by reducing wasted heat entering the bakery, especially during hot summer months. An audit will show whether insulation needs to be replaced.

Another good trick involves replacing old, constant-spark ignition ovens with a direct-spark ignition to enhance energy efficiency. Installing digital controls that automate the adjustment of heat dampers, linear actuators and steam valves also will slash energy usage during oven idle periods while gap-sensing monitoring minimizes flash heat that may burn products.

With high energy prices, bakeries need to focus on oven maintenance, so they burn less and earn more.