Automation enables bun, roll production to reach full potential

To keep up with summer demand for bun and rolls, bakeries have to run production lines at high speed. The beauty of these products is that they are straightforward to make, so bakeries can make a lot quickly with the right automation in place. Automation empowers these production lines to hit high capacity, but running at this level requires some extra care, specifically in equipment maintenance and employee training.

“Ensuring that all components are properly installed and operating correctly is one of the essential elements to maximizing bun and roll line efficiencies,” said Jerry Murphy, vice president, sales, Gemini Bakery Equipment/KB Systems. “Good ongoing preventative maintenance is also important. Employee turnover has created a particularly difficult situation regarding retaining knowledge of proper equipment assembly and operation.”

Going down while running at high speeds will cause a bakery to hemorrhage money. A proper maintenance plan can minimize chances of a catastrophic breakdown, but a well-trained team and plan can get things moving again quickly.

“Upstream and downstream equipment could go offline causing all interfaced equipment to stop,” said Randy Kelly, sales application specialist, Fristch USA, a Multivac company. “Having a plan for this and the steps required to clear the equipment and getting it running again is a necessity. Having the proper team in place to analyze the situation and make the decision on how to proceed is vital to keeping the production line running.”

By prioritizing maintenance, sanitation and training, baking companies can reach new speeds of bun and roll production.

High-speed production is only possible with the use of automation. Designing a continuous production line will help bakeries reach high throughputs.

“Intermittent processes have proven to have a limiting effect on the maximum desirable rates,” said Jay Fernandez, bakery innovation manager, Middleby Bakery Group.

In the absence of a continuous process, the start and stop of a line can impact product quality and create a lot of waste. Even something as simple as pans being jostled can have a negative effect on the dough, Mr. Fernandez said. This can also have an impact downstream as stops and starts can cause alignment issues and dough pieces can slide out of position.

“The dough feeding systems and subsequent lines must run reliably,” said Patricia Kennedy, president, WP Bakery Group. “The biggest issue for an industrial line is having to stop and start to correct issues on these systems. In addition, the operator must be able to see the complete process to ensure that any issues can be seen and rectified at a very early stage.”

This is where system integration and controls come into play. Integration ensures the entire line works together as it pushes through at high speeds, and controls and monitoring ensure nothing falls out of spec and anticipate when trouble is ahead.

“Proper design of the control system and integration with up and downstream processes or equipment is the key to minimizing waste when line stoppages happen,” explained Bruce Campbell, vice president, dough processing technologies, AMF Bakery Systems. “Especially on high-speed lines, 150 cuts per minute, for instance, any issue can snowball, causing a lot of waste if the controls do not react properly.”

In addition to its fully integrated production line for bun and roll production, AMF offers its AMF Connect program that can monitor machine diagnostics and make adjustments in real time to keep production moving at high speeds.

Koenig Bakery Systems designs its lines to operate at maximum capacity together, each piece keeping up with the divider and rounder, which Rich Breeswine, president and chief executive officer, described as the core of a bun and roll operation. This is where the speed of the line is determined.

“All of the Koenig machines are basically designed to operate at maximum capacity for long production runs,” he said. “If a baker operates a full roll line from Koenig, the entire line is designed to operate at the same maximum speed for all components: dividing and rounding, proofing, forming and setting.”

The new bun production line from Gemini/KB Systems runs round and moulded buns at more than 150 cycles per minute and features a proofer discharge to sheeter dough ball delivery system and horizontal multi-roller sheeter.

“This new design has eliminated the standard discharge chute system that historically delivered a dough ball from a rest proofer to a vertical sheeter,” Mr. Murphy explained. “By removing proofer discharge chutes, we have removed the effect that happens with the reliance of gravity that occurs when running different weights and speeds into the sheeter head.”

Integration between the equipment on the line keeps things moving in sync, or stopping in sync, with one another. Each system, from ingredient handling to mixing to dough makeup to the oven through packaging, all must be keeping time together to continuously turn out product at maximum rates. And this becomes even more critical when the line does have to stop for whatever reason.

“There has to be integration between each component on the line, upstream and downstream, in case the line is stopped,” Mr. Kelly said. “There has to be a signal to slow down or stop upstream or to tell the downstream equipment to stop so other product running on the line can be saved.”

Automatic monitoring and controls can ensure that the production line can adjust as needed to ensure product quality stays consistent without human interference to make those adjustments.

“Trusting the equipment’s ability to monitor and regulate the baking process will result in the highest efficiency and the most optimized output of the line,” Mr. Fernandez said.

Automation and controls enable the production line to make adjustments in real-time, but humans should get involved at the end of each day to discuss whether the bakery met its goals and keep an eye on line performance. Those goals should include productivity, labor, product quality and waste, at the minimum, but could go beyond those basics.

“The best practices to running a bun and roll line at maximum capacity would include establishing key performance targets and measurements and then managing them,” said John Kirkpatrick, bakery specialist, Reiser. “Those targets and the previous days’ results compared to those targets should be shared and discussed with at least all line supervisors, preferably all line operators as well, prior to each shift.”

With constant conversations around meeting these targets, employees can have ownership over the production line and what their role is in meeting those goals.

WP Bakery Group USA
Industrial Bakery Equipment, Commercial Bakery Equipment, Wholesale Baking Equipment, Artisan Baking Equipment in the United States and Canada

Reprinted with permission from Baking & Snack

July 19, 2021 | By Charlotte Atchley

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