Space has always been at a premium in supermarkets, especially when it comes to back-of-house production. These days, that space is even more valuable.

“The focus is on selling space as opposed to production space,” says Harry Jacoby, president of MIWE America. “Plus, more products are being produced outside the store, so all that's needed in the store are ovens which can finish off the products.”

That means ovens — with a smaller footprint, a healthy dose of efficiency and versatility — can be vital to maximizing profits in the instore bakery or prepared foods department.

More than meets the eye

The most obvious number to look at when considering space-saving aspects of an oven is its footprint. While that’s vital, it’s not the only important aspect.

“When it comes to the overall space utilization of the instore bakery, factors other than the equipment footprint have an equally large impact,” says Daniel Lago, CEO of Revent. “We’ve done several projects around the world with large retail operations to help them maximize the revenue per square foot in the instore bakeries.”

For starters, matching the equipment selection with the product program is key, Lago says, as is optimizing planning to maximize the utilization of the equipment and the baker.

“In addition to providing flexible and space-saving equipment, Revent also provides the know-how to put it all together,” Lago says.

The company launched the ONE series of ovens in 2016. During development, Lago says research teams interviewed bakers around the world to identify problems with day-to-day work that could be solved by new design ideas.

A lack of space and routine burn injuries were common issues for many bakers.

“Most bakers, if not all, will have burned their arms either loading trays into a smaller oven or loading racks into a rack oven. It’s easy to have your arm hit the hot inside of the oven door.”

The ONE series’ sliding pocket door was an answer to both problems. The lack of door swing saves space and burns are reduced by the door parking in the side wall of the oven while open.  Those features have been important for Revent in the past couple years, Lago says.

“We have seen the trend towards smaller instore bakeries growing stronger since we started the design of the ONE series,” he says.

Efficiency can also help reduce the overall space needed in a production area in addition to boosting margins, Jacoby says.

“By being more efficient in the baking process to get the products done quicker and more accurately, it means more profit when selling the products,” he says. “It also means less equipment necessary, thus decreasing the overall investment.”

Space savers

All that said, boosting efficiency and saving space still greatly comes down to how much punch an oven can pack in as small a footprint as possible.

For Revent, those sliding pocket doors that slide into the side wall of the oven are seen as game-changers. Otherwise, the footprint of a rotating rack oven is decided by the size of the racks and how compact the design of the heating section is.

“By having a round bake chamber and a rounded door we could add a sliding door without making the oven wider than a standard rack oven with a swing door,” Lago says. “Removing the door swing reduces the effective footprint by anywhere from 40 to 50 percent. We have also been able to reduce the size of the heating system by developing a proprietary burner and changing the air distribution. “

MIWE’s combination ovens are an answer to fitting as much baking power as possible into available space.

“The stores need more versatile and energy efficient ovens,” Jacoby says. “Combination ovens, which combine both convection and hearth baking, gives the store the versatility needed in a small footprint. “

The MIWE line of backcombi ovens combine the active heat of the convection oven with the baking atmosphere of a deck oven. The combination allows for a full range of baking, from sensitive, light pastries to heavy, farmhouse-style breads.

“They also combine the highest possible flexibility with the highest quality standards, all in a compact space,” Jacoby says.