Archive for the ‘bakery depositor’ Category

 In recent months we have talked about plugging the profit leaks in your bakery and increasing the customer’s perception of value – the “Wow Factor” in your bakery products. During these discussions we have referred to the role that automation plays in today’s bakery production. This month we are going to discuss the key issues to be considered for developing an automation plan.

History of Automation:
Automation has always played a role in baking. After all every bakery has an oven. In recent times excavations around the pyramids of Egypt revealed a large bakery complex with rows upon rows of stone ovens. Hundreds of bakers worked these ovens daily to feed the work gangs that built the pyramids. In today’s high tech world there are a wide range of bakery products, from Wonder Bread to Twinkies that are produced with fully automated processes. There is growing pressure to automate more bakery products.

The push to automate stems from the general shortage of labour available to work in bakeries, the increasing cost of labour, and the growing cost of injury claims due to repetitive stress injuries. Advances in automation also cut costs and improve sales by providing consistent ingredient portioning, and consistent taste, texture and presentation.

Developing an Automation Plan:
Determine your reasons to automate As mentioned above there are many benefits of automation. Ask yourself what benefits are the most important to you at this particular time. If reducing personal injury claims is your primary concern then determine the processes that are causing the most stress and the highest incidence of claims.

Look for machines and systems that automate these high stress processes. If controlling ingredient portioning is your primary concern, then you should determine the processes that are the most out of control. Look for machines that will automate these portioning steps. Along the way you will likely find that the machine that
solves one problem also provides benefits in another area.

In many cases the main objective of automation is reducing labor costs and increasing production capacity. The question that has to be answered is whether or not the machine will actually achieve the labor saving or productivity gain that is anticipated. For example you may buy a machine that allows a decorator to finish 600 cakes per hour. Without the machine the decorator may only be able to finish 60 cakes in an hour. In this situation the machine gives you the possibility of either saving labor costs or taking on new orders without adding to your labor pool.

Taking on new orders will give you the highest return on your investment. After all, the machine allows you to sell 10 times more cakes with the same labour pool. In our example this is 600- 60 = 540 cakes per hour or 4320 more cakes in an 8 hour day. Say you sell each cake for $2.50 and your ingredient cost is $1.00. When you sell all the extra cakes you will increase your profits by 4320 x $1.50 = $6480 per 8 hour day. Assuming 250 working days per year the increase in profits is $1,620,000.

Capacity Profile:
In the above example we see how one machine allows a single decorator to be 10 times more productive with the added benefit of greatly reduced risk of repetitive stress injury. A 10 times increase in productivity is so large that we have to determine if the rest of the bakery can keep up with the new pace. Can the bakery mix and bake 4320 more cakes per day? Can the bakery freeze or ship out an extra 4320 cakes per day? If some processes do not have the capacity to keep up they will have
to be upgraded with additional staff and/or additional equipment. The important point here is to determine how much overall capacity you need to run all your products and to ensure that each individual process has the sufficient capacity.

It is important to note that you do not want a balanced plant where each process has the same capacity as the other. In most bakeries the mixing capacity will be greater than the oven capacity and the finishing or decorating capacity will also be greater than the oven capacity. The reason for this is that the oven capacity is usually sets the limit of the overall capacity of the bakery. You never want to “starve” the oven of product to be baked so you build in some protective mixing capacity into your automation plan.

Levels of Automation:
There are different levels of automation. The first level of automation involves single purpose machines that require staff to operate. At this level machines will improve the productivity and reduce the physical stress on an individual. At the highest level of automation systems are employed that perform multiple steps in a process and require relatively few staff to operate. These systems greatly reduce manual processes and can usually be programmed to run a variety of recipes within a product category. An advanced automation system will generally employ a conveyor system to move products from one process to another saving time and handling costs.

Choosing a Vendor:
Now that you’ve made the decision to upgrade equipment there are important consideration in choosing the best vendor. Look for a vendor who is a leading innovator, who can provide engineering solutions for your particular requirements and plant parameters. A vendor with a well trained sales force who provides
operator and maintenance training, customer service and preventive maintenance programs will ensure that your equipment performs to its potential. In short you are looking for a vendor to become your partner in growth and innovation.


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Last month we talked about maximizing the profit on the products that run through your ovens.
This month, we will discuss inconsistent depositing before baking.

Some of the problems caused by inconsistent depositing are:

  1. Under weight and over weight deposits
  2. Damaging product during depositing
  3. Trailing or spillage of product during depositing

Under weight and over weight deposits:
When bakeries use inconsistent methods of depositing batters and fillings, your finished product
will either be overweight or underweight. The amounts could be small based on each production
run but add that up over a year of full production.

Methods where each deposit has to be measured or scaled are usually the most inconsistent.
In these situations the tendency is to over deposit to make sure that the final product weights are no less than the label weight on the package. The result is a direct hit on profits. After-all the baker can not charge for any of the ingredients that are over deposited. Improving the accuracy of the depositing system allows a baker to hit the label weights more accurately and virtually eliminate the profit leak from over depositing.

The first step in improving accuracy is to improve the scaling of ingredients. Modern day premixes go along way to making scaling more accurate. However there many bakeries that still make products by the “scratch” method. Some of these ingredients are premium high cost items. When these high cost items are over deposited the profit leak can be substantial.

An easy example of over portioning could be filling Cream Horns or Cannoli’s with a pastry bag. The typical method would be to use a pastry bag and “Eye Ball” the amount or just stop when you feel it’s right. A few problems arise here. Number one, if your Cream Horns or Cannoli’s are inconsistent in size, filling each one will take a different amount of filling. The second problem is obvious; filling these pastries by just “Eye Balling” the amount will almost always result in over filling. Multiply these inconsistent weights throughout the week, then throughout the year, add this up and see where you’re at with ingredient costs.

Solution — replace your pastry bag with a small single piston depositor. This way you can accurately fill each pastry with the exact amount of filling that you budgeted for in your costs. Now you can price your Cream Horns and Cannoli’s properly by having an accurate cost of ingredients on each one produced and sold.

Damaging product during depositing:
One concern with automated depositing solutions is the risk of damage to the product being deposited. Damaged product can lead to rejects or rework. Both of these problems cut into a bakery’s profits. These profit leaks can be prevented by choosing the right kind of depositor.

There are a number of different depositing methods to choose from: Gear pumps, sine pumps, double auger systems, and piston fillers. The key is to choose the best solution for the product being deposited. Bread and cookie or pie crust dough usually work well with double auger systems like the Vemag machine. Gear pumps like the Edhard pump handle donut fillings and some icings very well. And Piston fillers from from companies such as Hinds Bock, Unifiller and Megart work particularly well with batters, icings, mousses, and other flowable products. “The beauty of piston fillers is that the product is transferred by way of a vacuum process. This means that the product in the hopper of the depositor will not change during the depositing process”, says Bruce Williamson of Megart System in Toronto,  Canada. ” Bruce also adds, “When choosing any form of depositor, look for one that is easy to use and 65 set-up, easy to clean and easy to maintain.

Trailing or spillage of product during depositing:
Accurate depositing is not just a matter of repeating the same weight or volume with every shot. Accurate depositing is also a matter of hitting the target every time. Trailing batter or fillings over pans during depositing can lead to rejects after baking or to higher labor costs to clean pans for the next round of depositing and baking. Hitting the target is particularly important when it comes to icing cupcakes. Most cup cakes are sold in clamshells of 6 or 12, or in flat pack boxes of 24 and up. The most efficient way to ice these cup cakes is to ice them in the clam shells or flat packs. After icing, cupcakes can be further decorated with sprinkles, confetti candy or chocolate and caramel drizzle.

With ingredient prices at an all time high, customer expectations increasingly demanding and labor costs rising, examining your post oven production is a great way to close the profit leak and put some cash bash in your pocket.

Megart Systems designs and builds single and multi-piston depositors for fast, easy accurate scaling of a wide variety of products for unique and diverse bakery applications.

Join us next month for “Increasing the Wow Factor – Getting More for Your Bakery Products”

*Above image is a multi piston depositing System from Megart Systems*

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Unifiller understands taking production to the next level can be challenging. Increasing sales requires increasing production. Increasing production may require purchasing depositing equipment.
According to Jamie Bobyk, a former executive chef, “working with a reputable bakery equipment supplier can help provide you the expert knowledge to the questions you need answered.”  When choosing bakery depositors, it’s important to take some key points into consideration:
1. Does the depositor manufacturer understand your needs?
Many bakeries run into the challenge of inconsistent filling weights, which ultimately affects the taste, the look of their products and profits. The right equipment provider will “fine-tune” the depositor for a customer’s ideal recipe configuration.
2. Does the manufacturer provide value-added services prior to a purchase?
The right provider understands that the purchase of a depositor can be a business-critical decision for a bakery — that’s why they offer bakeries the option to test the depositor with “real” products before they buy.
3. Does the equipment require extensive training or setup?

From portioning pie dough, to transferring and depositing fillings, a Unifiller depositor offers so many options. Deposit just the right amount every time.
Stay tuned for more tips for choosing the right depositor. For more information, visit www.unifiller.com

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