Bakers may install a new line to expand capacity or produce the latest better-for-you or indulgent cookie. But such a large capital investment demands precision and requires plenty of preparation and communication between the baker and supplier.

“An old adage says that an hour of planning can save 10 hours of doing, and that could not be more accurate than when discussing what makes for a successful equipment install,” said Mark Glover, product manager for baked products & food extrusion, Baker Perkins. “Having a detailed timeline of events ranging from old equipment removal to new equipment offloading, placement and installation through I/O checkout and commissioning is paramount in minimizing downtime and ensuring an effective startup.”

When installing new equipment, Sam Pallottini, director of biscuit, cookie, pet food sales, Reading Bakery Systems (RBS), emphasized that both customer and supplier should have a dedicated project manager, an experienced millwright company should be hired for the installation, and the supplier’s servicemen should supervise.

“The installations that take the longest and usually cost the most are for manufacturers who try to skip one of these key steps,” he said. 

Mr. Glover echoed this point, saying the most common and impactful mistake he sees bakers make is attempting to install the equipment on their own or use untrained labor as a cost-saving measure, resulting in greater costs in the long run. 

Kevin Knott, technical sales manager, Bühler Group, added customers should make every effort to do a complete Factory Acceptance Test at the equipment manufacturer’s facility to minimize delays in startup. 

Testing equipment ahead of its instillation is essential, John Giacoio, vice president of sales, Rheon USA, stressed as well. 

“Testing allows us to know any issues that may need our attention before the equipment is installed,” he said. “By the time a line is installed, it is expected that the customer has already run the product on the equipment at least two times before the machine is ever delivered.

Mr. Pallottini noted that at RBS’ Science and Innovation Center, for example, cookie makers can define product parameters like mixing, forming, baking, drying and cooling to ensure the equipment is tailored to their needs. 

Cookie producers should also be aware of utility and building requirements before their equipment arrives, Mr. Glover said.

“Many times, the connection of utilities takes longer than the equipment installation itself, and much of this could be done prior to arrival of the equipment to truncate the startup process,” he said.

He added that bakers should have spare parts on hand whenever possible prior to installation to avoid any unforeseen delays, a practice that’s become even more pertinent amid current supply chain disruptions. 

Once equipment is installed, properly training workers on how to run it is a critical component that is often overlooked.

“Commissioning is a good time for hands-on or classroom-style training with a supplier’s equipment and process experts to ensure the equipment is run and maintained for optimal efficiencies,” Mr. Glover said. 

Although cookie manufacturers may find the equipment that suits their product, properly install it and train their staff, they may still run into production issues if they don’t accurately assess capacity needs, both present and future. Mr. Hagedorn said bakers who undersize critical aspects of their line end up limiting production down the road. 

“A lot of times one of the biggest mistakes is once you get an oven, that becomes your limiting factor. Or even a spiral freezer, that becomes a limiting factor,” he said. “People have to seriously consider what capacities they’re looking at to make sure they’ve built up enough space in there that should their capacity increase, they can grow.”

This article is an excerpt from the April 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Cookie Processing, click here.