PLANO, TEXAS — Bakers, both intermediate and high-volume, now can sample new products and test modifications quickly in a laboratory environment at the Middleby Bakery Innovation Center (BIC).
The 30,000-square-foot facility is home to a new series of production lines, including a 17-foot-wide Middleby BTS Hurricane tunnel oven and a new Emico high-capacity makeup line. In addition, two Auto-Bake lines are available to create a variety of bakery products such as pan bread, special buns, baguettes, artisan bread, muffins, cakes and cookies. The BIC also features equipment from Hinds-Bock, Stewart Systems, Burford, Sveba Dahlen, Spooner Vicars, Baker Thermal Solutions, Glimek, Varimixer and Scanico — all of which are Middleby Bakery Group companies. The facility offers opportunities for bakers to test ideas in a protected environment.
The BIC opened in April 2017 and also includes an air-conditioned bakery and conference center designed like a European patisserie and two industrial production lines. The facility was updated in January with another $250,000 investment when Middleby purchased the Swedish company Sveba Dahlen.
Jay Fernandez, Middleby’s BIC manager, said the update helps mid-size bakers investigate ways to scale up or improve production.
“Line time is $500 a minute at any plant, so using our line to do trials saves that money, and bakers can prove out a concept,” Mr. Fernandez said. “We can develop the product from mixing all the way through to blastfreezing.”
Len Kilby, head of BIC marketing, explained that the facility allows bakers to identify processing techniques before investing in a new production line. He described the facility as an extended research and development center for bakers around the world.
And the BIC is proving to have a global reach. At a recent seminar, international bakers accounted for more than 30% of attendees.
Mr. Kilby said visiting bakers can test a single pan of product — 24 pieces— and then immediately convert that process to industrial production — 24,000 pieces per hour — in less than an hour. The dough makeup line at the facility is capable of panning more than 50,000 buns an hour. All of this happens in one building, just a matter of feet away from the conference center that holds up to 50 people.
“When we reach optimization in R.&D. and the lab, then we can go out the swinging doors and within 50 feet, fire up some of our industrial ovens,” Mr. Kilby said. “And within 60 minutes, we can actually say this is what it’s going to look like on a production line.”
Bakers can use rack and deck ovens, intermediate proofers, freezers, semi- and fully-automated industrial dividers, rounders, seeders and enrobers, depositors, industrial oilers, and four styles of mixers. Middleby can also pull technology from one of the 70 other Middleby companies, many of which have certified chefs and bakers who can provide expert opinions on product development.
The BIC offers year-round education sessions, which are free to Middleby customers. Seminars this year included topics like clean label bread and bun processing and sweet goods processing. Middleby also hosts AIB International cake seminars, bakery engineering technical sessions, bakery maintenance instruction classes, oven service training and more. Companies also are invited to hold sales and committee meetings at the BIC.