Baking & Snack - May 2022 - 86

INGREDIENT HANDLING
tation and inventory management lay the foundation
for streamlining more manual ingredient handling
operations.
" Many opportunities exist for allowing bakery operations
of any scale to automate some aspects of their
handling of major and minor bulk ingredients, " he said.
" Some can be as simple as eliminating the labor needed
to open and handle paper bags by switching to supersack
quantities. Many of the solutions that Gemini can
assist with are modular and expandable as space and
budgets allow. "
Jason Stricker, vice president of sales and marketing,
Shick Esteve, pointed out that many bakeries still rely on
handwritten tracking sheets for raw ingredient lots that
must be transcribed into their manufacturing software.
" The duplication of effort increases labor and allows
the potential for simple data entry mistakes, " he said.
" Automating lot tracking using barcode and RFID-type
scanners allows a single point collection of the data that
can then be electronically transferred upstream. "
Bakeries then need to vet software to ensure that it's
Targeted investments
in technology, such
as automating minor
ingredient handling,
allow for experienced
operators to perform
other key duties in
production.
AZO
the best fit for their distinctive operations.
" When bakers are investigating these types of software,
bakers need to validate the supplier's experience, "
Mr. Stricker advised. " How often are they updating and
providing enhancements to the software? How easily expandable
is the system in the event of plant additions?
Can it be integrated with upfront ERP systems, and can
they access the data remotely? "
Mr. Hunter said small bakeries could explore lowlevel
bag-tip stations with a sieve and magnet for metal
detection to alleviate lifting. Adding a simple weighing
station with a large display screen that indicates when to
dispatch the ingredients to the mixer provides control.
With careful planning, Mr. Davis said, taking the initial
steps with automatic ingredient handling can provide
greater savings as the bakery's volume expands.
" Bag flour is expensive, " he said. " The next step is using
your bulk bags, or 2,000-lb bags, and from there, going
to bulk flour and trucks, where there's a savings per
pound of flour that translates to dollars in bakers' pockets
at the end of the day. "
Beyond automating dry ingredients, don't forget liquid
ones.
" Other than flour, the ingredient that's most automated
is the water system, whether that's being directly metered
in via a paddle-type or Coriolis flow meter where
you actually deliver the water to the mixer without the
operator having to do the actual physical scaling or
moving a hose from point A to point B, " Mr. Davis said.
Look at tomorrow
While mid-sized bakeries face similar challenges as
small ones do, Mr. Goshert said, their larger asset base
allows them to leverage a greater level of investment for
automation. That doesn't mean that resolving the skilled
labor conundrum is any easier for them. It just means
they have more options.
" While automating the bakery process lines can minimize
labor requirements, it doesn't eliminate it, " he said.
" Much of the labor requirements in automated, larger
facilities is also felt by mid-sized bakeries as they move
from manual to semiautomatic and then automatic bakery
ingredient batching and handling equipment. Highly
skilled labor is needed, and it's often in short supply. "
Specifically, installing automation often requires hiring
trained PLC control engineers and experienced
maintenance technicians, but there are options to alleviate
growing pains for mid-sized and large operations.
" Adding software tools that provide preventative
maintenance for process and automation equipment -
as well as software applications that make access to controls
simply a matter of using your browser from your
office PC or smartphone - will further reduce labor and
time demands, making highly skilled personnel as efficient
as possible, " Mr. Goshert explained.
With steel prices so high and in such high demand,
bakeries making the move to flour or sugar silos should
design the systems way in advance. Mr. Hunter said
project management is more important than ever.
" Delivering equipment in the past could be done in
four to six months from initial planning, " he observed.
" If you want a silo today, it could take up to a year to de86
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Baking & Snack - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - May 2022

Baking & Snack - May 2022 - Intro
Baking & Snack - May 2022 - 1
Baking & Snack - May 2022 - 2
Baking & Snack - May 2022 - 3
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