Now more than ever, retail bakeries are looking for equipment that will deliver smart automation, labor saving, increased sanitation with less human contact with the products and possibly create visual animation in the stores to participate in the effort to create a next level experience for the customers, according to Luc Imberechts, owner at Bakon USA.

Bakon’s new version of the Drop TT depositor, with this second generation, now features a larger touchscreen display, as well as a redesigned pump and hopper for easier change over and cleaning. This depositor is ideal for the production of French macarons, eclairs, choux, and butter cookies.

“We are also introducing the Bazz 50, our new cold liquid sprayer with onboard compressor (it just needs to be plugged into a standard 115V outlet),” he explains. “This sprayer is ideal for spraying release agent (much cheaper than the aerosol spray cans and environmentally friendly), egg wash, egg wash substitutes, and other cold liquids (milk, simple syrup).”

Sonia Bal, director of global marketing for Unifiller Systems, points out that the bakery industry is seeing trends toward more compact equipment that still allows bakery operators to integrate automation and connectivity to ensure a higher degree of responsiveness.

Overall, automation is gaining importance, given the circumstances of these times.

“I think it varies depending on the size of the bakery, its competitive market space and its business model,” Bal says. “An artisan bakery, for example, may be more hesitant to adopt innovative cake decorating technology, because their whole model is about delivering hand-crafted cakes. While a commercial or commissary bakery supplying national supermarket chain prioritizes consistency, standardization and higher production volumes, may have an increased need for depositing or cake decorating technology. Their focus on meeting customer demand has to be balanced with profits and returns.”

Aside from the more recent impact of COVID-19, she adds, factors such as M&As, the focus on reducing food waste, allergen control, green operations, and a shortage of skilled labor have led to a growth in the need for integrated solutions

John McIsaac, vice president of strategic business development for Reiser, Canton, Mass., points out that shuttles and index conveyors for cookie and bar production are vitally important to the success of the industry. “Our indexing and shuttle conveyors add a level of portion-to-pan automation to the line, reducing labor and maximizing production,” he says.

Some key advantages, he adds, to this equipment are as follows:

Shuttles and indexers – Reduced labor, product consistency, accurate weights.

Shuttles and indexers load multiple configurations onto trays with just the change of a recipe. 

With snacking gaining traction as a key trend in the consumer marketplace, it is important to recognize that “smaller portions need more accurate portioning,” McIsaac points out. “We have developed systems to make small portions quickly and accurately.”

In addition, “our series of Vemag attachments lets producers quickly shift their product mix. One base Vemag plus a handful of attachments allows bakers to easily produce a wide range of products,” he says, “We had a record year selling shuttle and index conveyors to load cookies and bars from a Vemag 500 to the baking pan. The equipment shows up every day, never calls in sick!”

Smart automation

From Bakon, the Bazz 50 is an air-mix sprayer for cold application with built-in compressor. It is always ready-to-use. It is ideal for spraying release agents, oil and egg wash (or egg wash substitute) as well as other cold liquids. Key Features The Bazz 50 has a built-in compressor. It only needs to be connected to a 115V power outlet. The unit sucks the liquid straight from its container.

Applications include as a release agent, oil, egg wash, egg wash substitute, and milk, water and other cold liquids

Finally, the BD3 tabletop piston depositor is the latest addition to Bakon’s range of depositing machines and is a perfect tabletop size depositing machine for a great variety of products. Its compact size and ease to use makes the BD3 very suitable for smaller quantities and therefore ideal for small bakeries, caterers, hotels and restaurants. A smaller machine doesn’t mean you have to compromise on features. The BD3 is versatile, powerful, available in three standard models and expandable with many accessories.

“These three machines help in the production of single portion products,” Imberechts, says.

Large volume depositing

Unifiller Systems has launched the innovative iFill Depositor, intended for bakery and food producers looking to deposit large volumes, up to 31 ounces, in a single deposit, using a simple and compact depositor. The iFill includes optional attachments such as a pail shelf to keep product containers off the floor to avoid contaminants and an optional pie wand for easy pie filling, even on the rack.

Although Unifiller expects this new equipment to be used mostly for cake batters and pie fillings, the application possibilities are endless. Capable of up to 100 cycles a minute, the iFill depositor is ideal for flowable products without particulates. Customers who have purchased the equipment have been able to speed up production, increase yield, optimize their labor, and better manage their product waste.

“Bakers are typically looking for assistance in all aspects; they are looking to stay competitive through new and unusual offerings that their customer base will appreciate, and of course, creating a better flavor profile which can sometimes come from changing their processes (how the dough/batter is mixed) or adding new ingredients - often costly - that's where our equipment comes in,” Bal points out. “If a baker has enough production volume, then our equipment can help them produce more in less time, but also optimize portion control of batters, fillings or glazes to ensure a consistent flavor profile and for ingredient cost management.”

As for labor-saving benefits, there are growing factors impacting the way food producers work. Over the years, changes in minimum wage, fewer people entering the trades, and boomers transitioning to retirement, have all led to the need for more automation.

“More recently, COVID-19 has demonstrated that businesses are heavily impacted when staff are difficult to retain due to health and safety concerns,” Bal says. “The current pandemic has been eye-opening. Automating what was previously done by hand – portioning or decorating can simplify a business’ daily operations - It can have a significant difference in throughput, which can positively impact employee health & well-being and reduce employee downtime - factoring into employee retention.”

Unifiller looks at portioning or cake decorating automation in the context of quality control.

“Automation eliminates human error & inconsistency (you can only eyeball portions so much), employee distraction, employee burnout, or employee injury from repetitive hand motions,” Bal says. “Equipment can eliminate these issues because machines can be programmed to run specific and repeatable parameters.”

Pastry sheeter solutions

In other recent innovations, Erika Record Baking Equipment offers innovations in reversible pastry sheeter solutions for both retail and wholesale bakeries. This includes compact tabletop sheeters, traditional floor sheeters, automatic sheeters, and sheeters with optional cutting attachments for producing croissants, donuts, and pastries.

For tabletop sheeters, the Z.Matik 507BL is a compact reversible, tabletop sheeter with conveyor belts that fold upright for minimized storage. The Z.Matik 507BL is the perfect reversible tabletop/bench sheeter for laminating and processing a wide variety of dough. This includes croissant, phyllo doughs and puff pastry.

This space-saving sheeter is perfect for bakeries with limited space. When not in use both sides of the conveyor table fold up for storage. This versatile machine is capable of handling the majority of tasks that their traditional, full-sized floor model counterparts can.

As for floor sheeters, the Z.Matik SF 600 Series of reversible pastry sheeters is also perfect for bakeries and restaurants with limited space. In addition, they are easy to clean and service with completely removable dough scrapers. When not in use both sides of the conveyor table fold up for storage. This versatile machine can also be coupled with an available cutting station.

In other equipment trends, Empire's Dosing & Filling Machines are highly versatile and help fill molds or containers and inject, decorate and fill cakes or pastries. The wide range of accessories available leave ample room for a bakers' creativity and makes them perfect for a vast variety of products.

The DPV Pneumatic Filling Machine, available from Empire Bakery Equipment, is the ideal equipment for dosing creams, marmalades, jams and semi-dense or liquid mixtures. The DPV offers a compact table-top design that leaves a minimal footprint in your bakery. The larger DP Pneumatic Depositor can be used alone or inserted into a production line and is perfect for mid to large-sized bakeries or wholesale bakeries.

The Bloemhof Bread and Roll Moulder, Model 860L, built and sold exclusively by Oliver rolls and shapes dough in seconds.  Gentle touch spring loaded rollers stretch the dough without tearing.  The rolling and moulding process degasses, folds, seals and forms the finished piece. A single person operation, the Model 860L Moulder can produce up to 3,600 pieces per hour. Finished sizes from ½ ounce to 7 lbs make it a versatile “set of hands”. Shape rolls, hoagies, hotdog buns, French bread, baguettes, pretzels, artisan breads, and pan breads. Trifecta: consistent yield, labor saving, and quality product. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you didn’t roll it by hand.)

The Bloemhof POCO Countertop Moulder is a compact countertop dough moulder that delivers on quality, simplicity, and labor savings. It is ideally suited for bolillos, rolls, sub buns, hot dog buns, demi-baguettes and pan bread. The spring-loaded rollers gently stretch dough, and dough is degassed, rolled, moulded, sealed and ready for the baking pan in seconds. Its compact design produces big output, up to 3,600 pieces per hour, and finished dough pieces from 1/2 to 18 ounce.

Proper cleaning for your mixer

Bake magazine reached out to Carolyn Bilger, marketing director, Hobart Food Equipment Group, to offer unique perspective on recommended cleaning procedures for your bakery mixer. The following are her responses.

Bake: What is the recommended frequency for cleaning your bakery mixer?

Bilger: Mixers should be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis to keep them operating properly.

Bake: What are the recommended steps to follow?

Bilger: New mixer bowls and accessories (e.g., beaters, whips and dough arms) should first be thoroughly washed with hot water and a mild soap solution. Next, rinse with a mild soda or vinegar solution and thoroughly rinse with clear water before use. This cleaning procedure should also be followed for bowls and agitators before whipping egg whites or whole eggs.

The mixer should be thoroughly cleaned daily. Do not use a hose to clean the mixer; it should be washed with a clean, damp cloth. The base allows ample room for cleaning under the mixer. The apron may be removed for cleaning by loosening the thumb screws. Do not wipe down slideways when cleaning.

Bake: Which cleaning materials should be used?

Bilger: Mild soap and warm water.

Bake: Any other steps to consider?

Bilger: The wire bowl cages on all Hobart mixers are removable, too. They should be washed in mild soap/detergent and water, rinsed with clear water and dried with a clean cloth before being reattached to the machine.

Bake: How often is a deep clean specified?

Bilger: If the machine is cleaned daily, there really is no deep cleaning required. 

Bake: What parts should be disassembled and cleaned?

Bilger: The bowl, along with all attachments such as the wire whip, flat beater and dough hook, should be disassembled and cleaned. The bowl cage on Hobart mixers is removable for easier cleaning and sanitation.

Bake: What are recommended steps for record keeping?

Bilger: I would post a log near the machine and have an a.m./p.m. cleaning record.

Bake: What are the other benefits of clean equipment?

Bilger: Clean equipment ensures that the machine is ready for the next batch! Cleaning and wiping the machine down keeps excess flour, batter, butter and other ingredients from accumulating.   

Bake: Other thoughts?

Bilger: All mixers are not created equal. All Hobart Mixers are NSF approved. This means that our products are certified and have undergone tests to meet specific guidelines for food safety. The stamp of approval gives customers peace of mind that they’re buying something that has been tested and certified by a legitimate, reputable organization.

IDDBA data

The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) announces the launch of Integrated Fresh Data, powered by IRI’s unify® platform.

The IDDBA reports it is always looking for opportunities to use the power of its organization to add value for association members. Thus, it has created a new partnership with IRI to provide a value-added benefit to IDDBA members: complimentary access to IRI data. 

IDDBA represents member companies of all sizes, some with more challenged market research budgets, which is why the organization wants to give all members access to the latest market data and analysis tools that are often otherwise accessible only to those with larger budgets.

“This comprehensive data stack is game changing for our members”, said Angela Bozo, IDDBA’s education director. The partnership with IRI provides data on dairy, deli and bakery sales, including department, aisle and category performance across multiple time periods, measures and product selection. Data is updated every 30 days and gives all IDDBA members free market data and analysis tools that would be prohibitively expensive for many of our members to purchase on their own.”

IDDBA Integrated Fresh is available through the member portal on, and Bozo encourages anyone seeking more information to reach out to

The Baker-Bot

Apex Motion Control, specialists in robotics and automation for the baking and food industry, provides bakeries with a new way to effortlessly decorate cakes without any strain, thanks to their collaborative robot: the Baker-Bot.

The Baker-Bot is a cobot that easily manages all the dull and repetitive work, including cake decorating. With its easy-to-use interface, all you need to do is draw a design onto the Baker-Bot’s tablet, then the Baker-Bot can easily handle the rest. Whether it’s personalized messages or intricate patterns, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to the options that the Baker-Bot provides for cake decorating, Apex Motion Control is an industry expert with systems integration — large industrial EOL palletizing for bakery, food, dairy, and pharmaceutical.

Check out this quick teaser to see it in action:

Apex Motion Control, specialists in robotics and automation for the baking and food industry, has designed their Baker-Bot to support food manufacturers by automating the loading and unloading of trays and pans.

The Baker-Bot is a collaborative robot that can easily integrate into an existing system to support tray handling tasks for conveyors and racks alike. The applications for the Baker-Bot’s tray management features are countless, including cookie production, bagel production, and more!

For example, one of the Baker-Bot’s previous setups involved a pizza dough conveyor. Once the balls of dough were on the conveyor, Apex’s Baker-Bot would quickly grab a tray, then perfectly catch the dough as they fell off the conveyor. After the cobot had collected enough dough, it would place that tray onto a stack of trays, then repeat the process as needed. This automation setup had allowed bakers to automate this part of the pizza dough production process, giving employees the necessary free time to focus on other tasks.

One new function for their Baker-Bot is targeted filling and depositing.

In addition to cake decorating, pick-n’-place, tray management, and packaging, their cobot can now be set up to handle target filling and depositing of sauce, fillings, or icing onto products as they move down your conveyor or form fill packaging line. Not only that, but it can also be easily integrated into most production lines without the need for safety guarding.

By utilizing the Baker-Bot’s targeted filling function, you can enjoy the benefits of accurate portion control, while also reducing repetitive strain. With this setup, cleaning and maintenance is easy as well. This cobot can also be integrated with other OEM equipment, and it is designed to work with most flowable products.

Connectivity software

Fortress Technology has launched its new suite of connectivity software to streamline data collection procedures. New flexible features include Industry 4.0-ready OPC/UA and Ethernet/IP Adapters which can be integrated securely within the firewall of each food plants’ existing networked systems.

Automating data collation and testing procedures, Fortress Technology’s Communication Adapter technologies reduce the margin for human error, supporting real-time end-to-end production visibility, HACCP Quality Assurance and reporting compliance.  

For food producers with existing data extraction and factory management software, the adapter platforms provide a seamless connection and communication aligned to industry standard protocols.

OPC/UA Adapter is a one-way solution that opens up event and parameter data/tags for collection over the network. Its interoperability allows multiple metal detectors to feed data in real time into a manufacturer’s central server. Each OPC/UA adapter can gather data from multiple metal detectors. Additionally, the OPC/UA architecture is supported by virtually every major automation technology supplier. Making it easier to synchronize data generated by multiple machines in smart processing environments.

The Ethernet IP Adapter also gives food producers the technology to connect and view the performance of multiple metal detectors via each machine’s connected IP address within the company’s IT infrastructure. Additionally, metal detector monitoring parameters and product settings can be changed over the network, paving the way for remote management, which in turn helps to reduce machine downtime.

The future potential of process control systems

By Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director, HRS Heat Exchangers

Thanks to developments such as Industry 4.0, digitization, and the cloud, together with improvements in process control and communication technology, it is easier than ever for equipment manufacturers to offer remote assistance and monitoring. The restrictions on travel and face-to-face working imposed the Coronavirus pandemic highlighted the benefits of remote commissioning to companies, many of whom are now looking to extract the most benefit from this technology.

HRS offers remote telemetry and control options for all applicable products and systems, using class-leading technology from Siemens and Allen-Bradley Products. We are keen to exploit the potential of process controls to improve levels of operational knowledge, process management and operational efficiency.

Process controls can incorporate a range of functions, such as visualization and Human Machine Interface (HMI) solutions, as well as programming tools and advanced software applications. We utilize a combination of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and graphic terminals to provide easy to use, reliable controls.

HRS also utilizes a suite of bespoke software to monitor and control key parameters. This data can easily be transferred to remote systems – either those belonging to the client or HRS itself, using either hardwired (ethernet) or secure wireless (4G/5G) communication technology.

Remote operation and monitoring provide a number of benefits, including the ability for clients to view and control equipment from a central point, something which is particularly beneficial for complex installations, or those which are spread across numerous buildings or sites. It also allows HRS staff to assist with operations such as commissioning, upgrading or running-in, and to provide ongoing technical support should this be required.

Looking to the future, digital process control technology is likely to become even more beneficial to processing industries. Control software can be constantly kept up to date, helping to keep systems operating at peak efficiency, but it is perhaps in the area of simulation that the greatest benefits could eventually be realised.

Engineers and commentators increasingly refer to the concept of a ‘digital twin’ – a virtual version of a physical system or piece of equipment which can be used to simulate any change to operation, from differences in product specification to adjusting physical settings such as valve diameter or tube length. When coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), such virtual systems can determine the optimum hygiene regimes, best energy efficiency and even the most productive time of day to run certain operations.

While our technology is not at this level yet, there is no doubt that as an industry we are getting closer. If such a future is to be realised, then information technology (IT) and operational engineering functions will need to become even closer, a trend which we are already seeing in many businesses. Industry 4.0 is a term that is often discussed, but not always fully appreciated. However, the last year has begun to show us what the near future will look like for process control.