This year’s International Baking Industry Expo spotlighted some of the newest pieces of bakery equipment that are poised to offer quicker, more effective capabilities for the commissary looking to improve.  

Bakon USA put the focus on presentation with the official launch of its new line of OCF refrigerated displays at the event. “We are introducing a lot of new products this year,” said Luc Imberechts, owner of the company, “and the innovation we’ve featured is the direct result of specific requests from our customers. OCF is rapidly becoming the brand of choice for world-famous pastry chefs, and our show was a great opportunity to come see why, as all these innovative products offer more flexibility combined with better energy efficiency and greater ease of use.”

As for Bakon’s production-related machinery, the Mavericks depositor showed off its unique flexibility in how many different kinds of substances it can work with. “Built on our experience in depositing,” Imberechts said, “the machine allows to deposit a large variety of products, be they batters, fillings, icings, caramels — but also cookie doughs with and without particulates, and gluten-free items too. It is designed to work as a stand-alone or inline solution, and complements our industrial multi-piston depositor, which has been completely redesigned too.”

Referred to by Bakon as “pasto-cookers,” the company’s pasteurizers were also on display, with staff on-hand to demonstrate how the machines can simplify the production of creams, glazes, jams, icings, and pate a choux. Imberechts was also particularly excited to speak with people about his newest and most compact ultrasonic cutting machine on display, called the Nano. “With a minimum (carbon) footprint,” he said, “this is an ideal solution for commissary and wholesale operators.”

Bakon’s line of preservation-related equipment, Koma, was also on full display, with a new blast freezer testing unit. Many customers had mentioned beforehand how they wanted to experiment with the technology, so Imberechts brought his new model of the Mistral blast freezer along as well.

“To round up our offerings,” Imberechts said, “the Koma Variotherm is now available for the US standard trays. It’s a very flexible solution, as each section can be set in terms of temperature and humidity control. So, it can be used as a freezer, a refrigerator, or even both.”

The future of ovens

Oven equipment took center stage at IBIE across many areas of the show floor. The ONE Demonstration Theater by Revent featured free daily demos by celebrity chefs and big-name cooking professionals showing off their skills and latest techniques.

Considered the crown jewels of Revent’s collection, the ONE series ovens feature a revolutionary round chamber that creates a more even heat distribution, and Revent’s new oven also meets the increasingly tough requirements within the food industry. As with most pioneering designs, both eye and mind need a bit of time to get acquainted with the round oven. It is groundbreaking in its shape, but also in its characteristics. By creating a round chamber, Revent’s engineers found a way to make the oven slimmer and at the same time more powerful. It scores high in all important aspects: first and foremost, in footprint and energy. Other innovations involve visibility, ergonomics, navigation, reliability, flexibility, profitability, durability and ease of installation and service. From day one, anyone can operate it.

For the first time at IBIE, MIWE presented an-depth look at “atmospheric baking,” with the introduction of the new MIWE roll-in e+, the first oven in the world able to bake with a defined, standard atmospheric pressure in the baking chamber. This provides an even baking result that is unaffected by external factors. The latest rack oven generation also offers 8% higher energy efficiency, as well as simpler operation and cleaning. It is the first rack oven in the world to come with a wireless core temperature sensor.

And with MIWE connectivity, innovation leader MIWE has responded to the demands of the present and the future: the trend towards more branch outlets, the increasing shortfalls in specialist personnel and the intense pressure to reduce costs. The aim of MIWE connectivity is to produce consistently good baking results by allowing more efficient and reliable operation of baking stations and bakery processing plants, optimizing processes and preventing breakdowns. MIWE connectivity covers a wide range of solutions, including apps, the new user interface MIWE go!, and the services MIWE remote and MIWE winCAB. This is in line with the company’s mission to make operation simpler and more transparent at all stages of the baking process. All MIWE baking stations, large ovens and bakery refrigeration units come with Internet capability as standard, which allows users at baking stations to connect to them without any additional investment via mobile apps. The app MIWE messenger provides continuous status and fault updates for one or more baking stations, while the app MIWE zoom allows online and remote control of the baking stations.

In addition, as warm snacks are driving growth in the on-the-go market, MIWE presented several oven systems that are perfect for the snack business: MIWE aero e+, MIWE gusto snack, MIWE cube, MIWE condo. The new convection oven MIWE gusto snack offers all the functions required for the snack business: steaming, gratinating and regeneration. The MIWE gusto snack’s easy-to-use steamer and combined functions (steam and hot air) allow almost completely odour-free preparation and regeneration of meat, fish and vegetables. The intelligent control system combines with the wireless, multi-point core temperature sensor to cook products on the spot.

Mixers and slicers

WP Bakery Group USA presented the new Kronos Spiral Mixer, which features the company’s three-zone mixing principle that is effective for a variety of doughs. The three-zone kneading process involves quick intensive mixing, so there is higher absorption in the mixing phase, as well as stronger gluten development and greater product volume.

In the realm of slicers, Doug Petrovich, vice-president of Food Tools, was also excited to show his company’s wares, specifically the new CS-8AW-1TD horizontal cake slabber, which provides single-blade, top-drive slicing. With an average speed of 1,800 products per hour, the CS-8AW-1TD is built to slice cakes, muffins, biscuits or other breads in half, evenly and quickly. The single blade is horizontal, reciprocating and Teflon-coated, slicing through layers from 0.3 in to 3.5 in thick, but is also automated and removed from human hands to ensure safety.

“This top drive holds the product while slicing thin layers and allows for slicing at higher temperatures,” Petrovich said. “It also features independent speed controls for the blade and conveyor, which allows for infinite control of the slicing process for many different types of products at different temperatures. It is fully-guarded and has a sanitary design to meet BISSC standards.”

Food Tools new bench-top, a low-cost wire cutter for fresh cake, was also in evidence, and was presented as an “economical solution for bakeries needing to portion fresh round products,” said Petrovich. The bench top has an average production speed of 1 - 50 products per hour and is designed to fit into small places. It uses a rotating platform with a single wire for cutting, and because it’s mechanized, the results are the same no matter who operates it. This machine in particular, he said, is a great starter for those bakeries just beginning to portion out their cakes.

Maximizing bread sales

For IBIE attendees and others deciding on their next purchase of a bread slicer, there are a number of important questions to ask prior to making this investment. What’s your daily production volume? Loaf size? Hard crust vs. soft crust? Slice thickness? On-demand slicing vs. wholesale? And most important, what are the goals of your sliced bread program? “It’s all about knowing your bread, knowing your customers and knowing what kind of in-store experience you’re looking to offer,” says Joe Gallagher, food equipment business leader for Oliver Packaging & Equipment Company.

For starters, a frame slicer is more suitable when you have a range of needs, while a variable thickness slicer does the job when you need to produce different slice thickness. Or perhaps you are looking for a self-service model for customers “who are looking for a premium assortment of bread but not looking for a relationship with the store,” he adds.

Yvonne Johnson, director of marketing at Oliver, recommends that any bakery owner take a hard look at the bigger picture to plot your needs in a best-case scenario. “They need to look at the big picture. Can this slicer do everything I want to do as I expand my product offerings?” she says. “Don’t buy based on what they are doing at this moment. Buy based on what they envision they want to do.”

Bakers sometimes overlook the fact that a new piece of equipment can catapult your operation into profitable new directions. Instore bakeries and cafes, for instance, may want to consider selling multiple types of sliced bread in one bag to appeal to customers, especially the growing number of single-person or smaller households in America, who want more variety but are less inclined to buy a whole loaf.

Offering three different sliced sourdoughs in one loaf is a great example of what may appeal to a lot of customers, Gallagher says. “The sky is the limit to reimagine how bread is sold,” he says. “Or make a sandwich with a certain kind of bread and offer a half loaf of the same bread for the customer to take home. Simple things like that can add a lot of breadth to the business.”

JAC-Machines recently unveiled a compact variable thickness slicer, which takes up less space than a frame slicer because of its vertical cutting system.

Paul Molyneux of JAC-Machines points out that slicer innovation has come a long way since the days of using a lever to push the bread through the slicer.  Examples include state-of-the-art safety features, as well as interlocking doors, safety covers and photo eye sensors.

Gallagher at Oliver adds that self-service is a growing trend, particularly among younger customers who are looking for a more fluid shopping experience. New from Oliver, the SimpleSlice Pro-Serve and Self-Serve on-demand bread slicers easily slice up to 18-inch long loaves, the largest capacity in the industry. The Pro-Serve model is used by bakery staff, while the Self-Serve model offers consumers a simple and quick slicing experience that provides convenience.