18/10/2022 Fortress Technology (Europe) Ltd
Rising wheat and energy prices could put bread and bakery supply chains at risk, the CEO of the Bakers Federation recently warned. To help curb these rising macro costs, food inspection specialist Fortress Technology uncovers how automated technologies can be deployed by industrial bakeries to reduce donations and false rejects and increase productivity.
Before the conflict in Ukraine, bakers were already digging in and preparing for a bumpy ride, with rising raw material and import prices adding another 4.5 pence to the costs of producing an 800 gram loaf . Over the past six months, production costs have again more than doubled, says the Federation of Bakers.
Naturally, the cost of flour contributes to these hikes. However, it is the higher energy consumption figures related to running machinery, ovens and keeping production lights on that have the biggest impact on end costs. It is all the more imperative to discover the causes of the losses upstream and to fight against the waste of batches of baked goods because they were out of tolerance before reaching the ovens.
Automated weight monitoring
Checking the weight of baked goods before the proofing phase is relevant. So does maintaining consistent processing and weight control speeds. The reason, says Jodie Curry, commercial director of Fortress Technology, is to consider processing variables and ensure products are not out of tolerance before baking.
“Leaving until the final stage of the process could result in an entire batch being overweight or underweight. This would potentially cost a bakery over four hours of lost production time and thousands of wasted products thrown away,” warns Jodie
Also, a loaf can weigh 800 grams when baked, but in its raw state it weighs 917 grams. If it is out of tolerance by just a few grams, the dough can overflow and potentially spoil other breads during baking. Also, if one is overweight, there will definitely be an underweight loaf in the mix.
Ensuring consistent portion weights, the Fortress Hestia Dough Checkweigher – used for all manner of baked goods applications – from pizza to baps, French sticks to cakes and crumpets to traditional breads – inspects up to 12,000 dough pieces per hour. Connected to an automated upstream dough dividing line, if a piece of dough is under or overweight by just 0.5 grams, the Dough Checkweigher automatically rejects it.
Simultaneously, the machine’s advanced fiber optic controlled software communicates in real time with the dough divider to adjust the blade position for the next batch. For ultimate processing flexibility, Fortress can pre-program up to 500 different product codes, ranging from 150 grams to six kilograms.
“Every great bakery started out doing these dough-dividing and weight-checking tasks by hand. Not only is it labor-intensive, but it also leads to variations in product quality. For commercial and artisan bakers, automated dough checkweighing helps remove and rework individual pieces that do not meet the target weight, as well as provide corrective feedback to the dough divider,” points out Jodie.
Data collected through the management control system can also help track uptime and troubleshoot line inefficiencies. Using the touch screen, bakery operators can select the
most relevant statistical parameters for their operation. The easy-to-use graphical display automatically records and reports Reject Integrity compliance tests. This intuitive digital interface also significantly reduces setup time between batches.
For better traceability, reports – configured by time, date or product code – can be downloaded and easily converted into common management software and reporting applications. Secure, remote and authorized levels of access allow bakers to troubleshoot, diagnose, and resolve equipment issues on-site to minimize system downtime and avoid production bottlenecks .
Low energy footprint
To help bakeries cope with rising petrol prices, which have quintupled from £45 per therm just 12 months ago, this dough checkweigher is fitted with an energy-efficient electric servo motor instead of compressed air. The result is a more compact system to accurately and automatically reject overweight or underweight dough, faster and more sustainably.
Measuring just 200cm long and 90cm wide, one of the main advantages of this electric drive is that the reject unit can be located under the hygienic conveyor and not clip into the body of the machine, Jodie points out. “In an automated inspection cell like Hestia, servo drives have proven to be extremely energy efficient. But these drives also help our engineers maintain a compact and slim unit. Especially compared to systems where the reject bin usually protrudes to the side. »
Adapting to these market forces, bakery producers are under constant pressure from all sides to optimize energy efficiency and labor productivity while simultaneously reducing waste and giveaways. Jodie concludes: “The bakery not only discards the waste of raw ingredients and affects yield, but it also wastes all the labor needed to produce each batch. Add to that the energy consumed by ovens, mixers and other automated equipment on the line, as well as inefficient starts and stops, all of these interconnected factors contribute to the economic and environmental performance of today’s commercial bakeries.
Depending on production volumes, switching from manual weight checking to automated preflight checking can save industrial bakers up to £1,000 a day.
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