Automated equipment can give retailers and suppliers a helpful boost in efficiency as companies continue to manage labor shortages and consumer demand. 

From instore kitchens and bakeries to commissaries and packaging, equipment manufacturers are designing new innovations for everyone.

Spring roll production

Taipei, Taiwan-based ANKO Food Machine Co. Ltd. is a food machine manufacturer that specializes in automated ethnic food production. The company, founded in 1978, supplies its equipment to 112 countries around the world and has a United States branch in Los Angeles.

The company’s latest innovation is the SR-27 Automatic Spring Roll Production Line, which launches this year.

“It is suitable for large food factories, central kitchens, and large-scale manufacturers to help resolve production issues related to the global labor shortage and rising wages,” said a company representative. “ANKO’s SR-27 has the capacity of producing 2,700 spring rolls per hour, and the unique filling system can process and extrude a wide range of ingredients. After loading the hoppers with raw materials, the automated production begins with a simple click. All the parts that have direct contact with food ingredients can be cleaned thoroughly and easily with water.”

According to ANKO, many spring roll production machines run into issues with processing fillings made of vegetables with lots of fiber. The solution is adding more starch and pre-cooking the filling, which affects how crisp and crunchy the texture is.

The ANKO’s SR-27 simulates hand proportioning and wrapping with a pressure-free filling hopper, allowing it to produce spring rolls with any variety of filling without requiring additives or extra cooking. The filling hopper holds up to 50 liters, so it does not need to be refilled as frequently.

“This upgraded filling system does not over compress the food ingredients and they can retain their original textures,” the company said. “It can also process a wide range of filling ingredients, such as fibrous vegetables with low lubricity and cooked meats that have low viscosity.”

ANKO also designed the equipment to produce spring rolls a variety of ways for any kitchen’s needs.

“Depending on the client’s product requirements, this production line can produce high quality frozen spring rolls, deep-fried spring rolls and fresh spring rolls,” the company said. “ANKO understands how the slightest difference between brands of flours and filling ingredients can make a huge difference in an automated food production line. Hence, we have built the industry’s very first ‘food lab’ that collects an extensive selection of food recipes from around the world, to assist you with customized spring roll product development to gain advantages in the marketplace.”

The equipment is simple to operate, making it easier to train employees. It has a touch screen control panel and a built-in IoT system for remote production monitoring and supervision.

Baking bread

Walla Walla, Wash.-based Wilkinson Baking Company (WBC) launched a fully automated commercial bread-baking robot called the BreadBot in the summer of 2022 after several pilot years in grocery stores.

In October 2022, the company closed its $3 million seed round led by Ken Peterson of Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC), along with Rich Product Ventures (RPV) and several angel investors.

WBC said the funds will be primarily used to increase the company’s manufacturing of the BreadBots.

“In an era of high transportation costs and staffing constraints, I immediately recognized the potential for the BreadBot,” said Ken Peterson, CEO of CVC. “The company required capital to unlock its next phase of growth and I was excited to partner with WBC and the Wilkinson family to build more BreadBots and see them deployed in grocery stores.”

According to the company, the first retail store to receive a BreadBot was Andy’s Market in College Place, Wash. in July 2022. WBC plans to have 20 more units ready to deploy this year.

“We are having engaging conversations with grocers who see our vision for changing the way bread is manufactured and distributed,” said Paul Rhynard, WBC CEO. “This is just the beginning of our journey with a highly disruptive solution that brings truly fresh bread to consumers, thanks in part to our incredible new partners.”

Breadbot equipment on white backgroundSource: Bonin Ventures, PR Newswire