Fifty years ago, bakery production lines consisted of single-row depositors and tunnel ovens, and only a small part of the process was automated, according to Pieter Doornbos, product sales director for Tromp Group. These lines produced less than 10,000 pieces per hour.
Compare that to today’s fully automated bakery lines that do 70,000 pieces per hour, and one can only marvel at the technological advances made in only a few decades.
But wait. Some global customers now want production lines that can surpass 200,000 pieces per hour, and with the ability to handle multiple varieties and sizes.
“Customers are asking for more variety and higher capacity,” Doornbos told attendees at the recent Europain Forum panel on “The Bakery Revolution: Science in Process.”
For Tromp Group, part of the Markel Food Group, this driving force translates into helping customers be more efficient and providing service all over the world.
“Customers are looking for multiple variations. A very nice even bake and a very tasty, soft product,” he said.
Globally, there are more than 25,000 new products developed in the bakery and pastry business every year, said Cyril Munsch, sales director for Mecatherm, another speaker on the Europain Forum panel.
He identified two major trends — mass production and flexibility — influencing the future of industrial bakery production. Additionally, consumer demand for healthy and premium products with “easy-to-go” convenience is pressuring the industry to integrate more options.
“All these trends are pushing manufacturing to add flexibility, and modularity is the key word to do flexibility,” Munsch said. “It’s a matter of having modular equipment so you can adapt to different needs.”
For instance, your operation may need the flexibility to have an oven on your production line that is able to bake baguettes, croissants and more. as well as accept different sizes of baking trays.
Modular equipment enables industrial manufacturing to tailor production lines to flexible needs. You can’t afford to tackle this challenge haphazardly because, as Munsch puts it, “one thing everybody is looking for is consistency of product.”
At Europain, Mecatherm introduced a new visual identity “that better reflects its DNA” with its vision to be the reference supplier of solutions for the global industrial bakery sector.
As a French company built on nationwide expertise, Mecatherm sought to anchor its roots in its logo, which now bears the colors of the French flag. Red and blue represent its unique capability in designing baking, cooling and freezing equipment.
The new visual identity comes as the company embarks on a new phase of innovation. New products will be launched this year including at the IBA fair in Munich in September. These products will be based partly on Mecatherm's historic market, crusty bread, with the introduction of new solutions for companies in Western countries. Mecatherm will expand its range of baking systems to offer a wide variety of products in addition to standard bread to include sandwich bread, pastries, cakes and soft products.
For specific customers, the company is developing The Baguette Factory, a turnkey solution featuring a fully automated production line, complete with accessories and a range of services, including seeking solutions for funding in partnership with BPI France, and consultancy for the building design in partnership with Berthault.
Training is another important component of its global initiatives. “You also need to train the people and make sure you have the right labor force to produce high quality product,” Munsch said.
In 2017, Mecatherm opened offices in Mexico and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and installed 24 new production lines around the world. For instance, the company equipped a new factory in Mozambique with four production lines, and installed a toast bread line in Suriname, South America.
"While 2017 was the year of proven success, 2018 looks set to become a historically important year for Mecatherm,” said Olivier Sergent, chief executive officer. “This year, we are poised to reach a new milestone and shift up a gear. We will achieve this by strengthening the teams to increase our selling power, launching new products and unveiling a new image that reflects the dynamism and expanding reach of our company.”