Automation is the key element in the evolution of product handling equipment often seen in the snack and bakery market. Cartoners, case packers, palletizers and similar equipment increase productivity while handling a wide range of packaging styles.
The latest metal detection and X-ray inspection equipment can detect small foreign objects, reduce false rejects and handle a wide range of products, which is good news for bakery/snack producers who are striving to improve their quality control programs.
Consumers are demanding a much wider range of snack products and baked goods. By adapting the packaging design and look of their product, producers can easily update their portfolio to help maintain visibility and market relevance.
Thermal management is crucial to processing, storing and delivering several types of snacks and baked goods. The latest systems cover a wide range of functions, including chilling dough, cooling product after exiting the oven, and refrigerating or freezing finished product. Specialized cold storage facilities also are part of the mix.
For snack food and select baked goods producers today, flexibility is the most sought-after feature of form/fill/seal (FFS) packaging equipment. Manufacturers also seek modular designs that provide scalable solutions and flexible layout configurations.
Advances in fleet management are being driven by routing and scheduling software linked to in-cab vehicle tracking equipment that streamlines the delivery process. These advances can help cut costs and better monitor delivery of products in a market where on-time delivery is crucial.
When it comes to packaging materials, one of the biggest consumer demands cited by bakers and snack producers is the need for extended shelf life—packaging that makes food last longer on the store shelf and in the refrigerator.
Warehouse automation has evolved significantly in recent years to a level where warehouse execution systems (WES) are now available to streamline material flow and order picking. These systems offer bakeries and snack producers a better way to store and ship goods to market.
Retail-ready packaging (RRP) solutions range from large corrugated boxes with loose packages to smaller, notched paperboard holders for stand-up display of carded packages. Retailers benefit from RRP because it gives them shelf-ready inventory in seconds, cutting the time it takes to check in and stock shelves.
Many aspects of mixing equipment for snack and bakery applications, including doughs and batters, continue to evolve, including more automated controls, better sanitary design, vacuum/pressure capabilities and shorter cycling times.