Now, One Size Can Fit it All
With skyrocketing energy prices, hybrid vehicles have become the hot topic among consumers who are looking to save money. In the baking industry, hybrid ovens are becoming increasingly popular in the baking industry. It’s not because they necessarily save money, but they help bakers make money by being able to produce a wide variety of products on a single line.
Just over a decade ago, high-volume tunnel ovens came in a one-size-fits-all type of format. That’s because the majority of U.S. production lines tended to be dedicated to producing a single type of product, such as 200 loaves of white bread per minute.
Today, many bakers still rely on banks of rack and deck ovens to produce a variety of small-run products to meet their customers’ needs.
However, a growing number of bakers now are asking for flexible high-volume ovens that can produce everything from Old World breads and par-baked rolls to pound cakes and muffins on a single line. This trend is emerging not only because the bread and baked sweet goods aisles is changing as consumer trends shift, but also because bakers are seeking to diversify their customer base as they venture into alternative channels ranging from club stores and C-stores to foodservice chains and in-store bakeries. As a result, today’s hybrid ovens often combine multiple baking methods in a single unit.
Rademaker’s Multibake H, for instance, can be designed with direct-fired, impingement, radiant or even infrared capabilities.
Likewise, Danish Food Equipment’s Delta Three Direct Heated Oven comes in a hybrid form that combines direct-fired and convection heat.
C.H. Babb notes that it can custom-design ovens with the right mix of convection, conduction or radiant heat, and combine it with the proper amounts of steam and humidity to ensure that breads come out with the correct oven lift, texture, color and crust.
In addition to production flexibility, bakers are searching for space-saving ovens that can be expanded as additional capacity is required. Turkington APV USA’s 935 Modular Tray Oven has a compact design with the capacity for 38.5 pans for a high output of bread or rolls. The heating system uses patented, adjustable Tri-Zone Burners, 360-degree rotatable air agitation tubes with control dampers and individual zone control thermostats for complete control of the baking process.
Auto-Bake recently launched its two-pan wide variation of its compact Serpentine convection oven, which has a footprint of just one-tenth of that of an equivalent tunnel oven.
“The wider convection oven is ideal for high-volume baking applications,” notes Osvaldo Demin, chief design engineer, in a recent release by Auto-Bake. “The uniform heat distribution pattern featured in Auto-Bake’s narrower convention ovens is maintained in the two-tray-wide variant. Products are baked from all angles — top, bottom and sides — which is ideal where products are closely packed throughout the baking process.”
In addition, Mecatherm offers modular designed ovens that allow bakers to produce frozen par-baked, fully-baked or even frozen dough products, the latter by bypassing the baking chamber, on a single line.
Many high-volume specialty bakers are turning to stone hearth ovens that allow them to produce everything from artisan breads to pizza crusts.
For example, The Henry Group’s Direct Gas-Fired Traveling Tray oven provides versatility because it allows products to be baked in pans or directly on the transit trays.
To increase the efficiency and quality of high-volume production, Stewart Systems Conveyorized Oven offers accurate heat controls that provide rapid response to temperature adjustments. A combination of burner modulation and incremental exhaust speeds maintain a temperate under or override within plus or minus 3°F.
Although thermal oil has been around for some time, U.S. bakers are giving it a second look as energy prices continue to rise. Kaak Group North America, for instance, offers Daub thermal oil ovens that use 50% less energy than comparable gas units.