Baking & Snack - April 2021 - 30

SUGAR BOWL BAKERY

COVID-19 BROUGHT NEW HURDLES TO
SUGAR BOWL BAKERY STARTUP
Every bakery trying to expand in 2020 had to
wrestle with the restrictions put in place due to
the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Sugar Bowl
Bakery, Hayward, Calif., had the benefit that much
of the planning for its new facility in Tucker, Ga.,
was underway when the pandemic reached the
United States. Critical engineering conversations
had already happened, so the team knew what it
needed to execute starting up a new facility. For
execution, Sugar Bowl Bakery relied on its longstanding relationships with equipment suppliers.
" Having to go through a lot of the engineering
remotely without being able to travel was the
biggest challenge, " said Garrett Pounds, senior
director of maintenance and engineering at
the Tucker facility. " Pulling all of these designs
together and not being able to travel to put your
hands on it is a major challenge. "
Mr. Pounds credits those strong partnerships
with suppliers who understood the Hayward
facilities' processes with overcoming that
challenge. With that knowledge and those
relationships, Sugar Bowl Bakery was able to
replicate Hayward's processes in Tucker.
Hiring was also trickier with COVID-19
precautions keeping Sugar Bowl Bakery leaders
from traveling to Georgia for interviews.
" We got better at recruiting and interviewing
over the internet, " said Joel Feldman, president
and chief operating officer, Sugar Bowl Bakery.
" As much as we would have preferred to interview
in person, we had to rely on that. But we got key
leaders in place right away who we relied on to
build out the tools and the teams. "
And then there was production itself. Like every
wholesale bakery in the US, Sugar Bowl Bakery
was faced with protecting its employees as they
continued their work in person on the production
room floor. Sugar Bowl Bakery put together a
COVID-19 task force of key leaders in the business.
The task force met every day from March through
the end of August and continues to meet three
times per week to this day to evaluate employee
safety. Sugar Bowl Bakery put in place common
safety measures such as temperature checks,
PPE and plexiglass partitions, but it also offered
options for employees who were at high-risk for a
severe case of COVID-19.
" I'm proud of how the leaders on the task force
stepped up and put employee safety first, and I'm
certainly proud of all our employees for taking
it seriously in protecting themselves and their
coworkers, " Mr. Feldman said.

30 Baking & Snack April 2021 / www.bakingbusiness.com

This is a departure from the vertical batch mixers Sugar Bowl
Bakery typically uses in its process, but this system was available
and ready to be repurposed for the batter line, making startup
simpler. The dual mixing system has two mirrored sides that together can turn out 9,000 lbs per hour of batter. The batter is automatically fed to a new Hinds-Bock depositor. These two systems
communicate to ensure the depositor has a constant level of batter
in the hopper.
To keep the startup simple and on time with COVID-19, it was
important to the company to partner with equipment suppliers
that it had worked with in the past. Hinds-Bock has been that
depositing partner multiple times before, and Sugar Bowl Bakery
was confident in the supplier's knowledge of its products.
" We went with a depositor that represented an upgrade to our
prior models, " Mr. Pounds said. " This unit is driven by servo motors compared to the air cylinder-driven units we have on our
other lines. "
The depositor portions batter across 18 rows into pans for the
company's 1-oz and 0.7-oz Brownie Bites, Madeleines and Duets.
These pans are fed into a 100-foot Baker Perkins tunnel oven that
the company acquired with the facility. Babbco, which has a longstanding relationship with Sugar Bowl Bakery, evaluated the oven
for its use on the batter line.
" We didn't change the engineering of the oven, but we did a
pretty extensive mechanical, electrical and controls rebuild to
make sure reliability is there and that from a quality perspective everything was fully functional, " Mr. Pounds explained. " We
also made sure all the components were up to speed on safety
requirements. "
Once baked, proper cooling is important to depan these small,
delicate products. A Babbco cooling system brings product down
in temperature immediately after baking. Product can then be depanned before entering a spiral freezer that is set to cooling temperatures. As product inclines to the spiral conveyors, pans travel
to new CBF pan conveyors to be cleaned and sprayed with the new
Axis Automation oil sprayer before starting the process over again.
After 45 minutes cooling on the spiral freezer, product is ready
to be packaged. The packaging department in Tucker is a largely
manual process, but that will change. Brownie Bites, Madeleines
and Duets are hand-packed into PET clamshells. Sugar Bowl
Bakery has plans to install Syntegon wrappers later this year.
" We discussed this in the planning stages, " Mr. Pounds said, explaining the choice to forego automated packaging lines in the beginning. " We prioritized simplicity, which is one of the key values
of our company versus the complexity of automation, especially at
startup. We are working with new employees and leadership, and
we didn't want that complexity at startup. On the processing side,
we have almost full automation because that's the right way to do
it. But in the packaging room, we're looking to layer in that complexity and automation as the site grows and builds capability. "
The second production line is less automated and produces the
company's Fritter products. Installed in January, Line No. 2 can turn
out 250 pieces per minute at 4 oz a piece. Two BES mixers start things


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Baking & Snack - April 2021

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Baking & Snack - April 2021 - 1
Baking & Snack - April 2021 - 1
Baking & Snack - April 2021 - 2
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