Ingredient handling and storage systems need to be versatile to handle a variety of products and to expand as the sales of bakery and snack producers grow.

Life is all about making choices, but rarely is the decision-making process easy. Purchasing a home can be one of the most stressful decisions because so much is at stake and so much can go wrong. Fortunately in most states, there’s the buyer’s remorse clause that gives buyers up to five days to change their minds and back out of a deal.

In the baking industry, making a major investment such as selecting the right ingredient handling system takes a lot of research, notes Ken Johnson, president of Gemini Bakery Equipment Co., Philadelphia.

“Bakery equipment buyers need to be well informed when selecting ingredient handling solutions given the wide range of bulk handling equipment technology available today,” he says.

For instance, Johnson adds, the choice between the less durable fabric-type storage bins versus solid steel storage bins is one that must be carefully thought out.

“Higher operating costs due to more required cleaning and maintenance, limited capacity for expansion and more opportunity for mold growth will quickly catch up with and surpass any marginal upfront cost savings for the fabric type storage bins,” he explains.

Municipal regulations and other factors also may influence the choice between indoor and outdoor silos, the latter of which may require special venting equipment and insulation and weather resistant systems, notes Karl Brunner, president of KB Systems. The Bangor, Pa., company manufactures both types of silos and works with the bakeries to decide which is best for their locations and specialized requirements, he says.

Outdoor storage solutions work well, but Brunner says there are many advantages such as climate control to indoor storage systems. Additionally, he says, outdoor systems can be more costly due to higher installation costs, requirements for special permits and pads and more.

For affordable minor ingredient handling, AZO offers its DosiBox, which can handle up to 40 ingredients using light-weight plastic containers that are easy to clean, reduce allergen concerns and provide front-end controls. The modular frame is tested for batching accuracy before being installed. AZO’s new Soft Batch Engine X-C software program controls scaling accuracy, monitors inventories and documents formula composition, according to the Memphis, Tenn.-based company.

Great Western Manufacturing’s pneumatic in-line sifters can be directly inserted into a vacuum- or pressure-pneumatic conveying line to remove small amounts of oversized impurities from a product. Placed in a pneumatic unloading or transfer system, the Great Western In-Line Tru-Balance sifter eliminates the need for cyclone receivers, airlocks and receiving hoppers and blowers, which would be required with the use of a standard atmospheric pressure sifter, according to the Leavenworth, Kan.-based company.

To provide customized batch management and data collection, Shick Tube-Veyor Corp. developed its IntelliBatch system, which offers open software architecture that can provide everything from recipe management, batch execution and ingredient management to management reporting and analysis and process data and business system integration, notes the Kansas City, Mo.-based company.

Another choice between vacuum conveying systems versus pressure conveying systems can be confusing, according to Brunner.

“Vacuum systems have advantages in certain specialized bakery applications but they do have limitations; most notably in the distance that they can convey bulk ingredients,” he explains.

Long-term flexibility to meet growing demands is a major factor to consider as well, Brunner notes. Meanwhile, low-maintenance options can minimize downtime and improve operating efficiency. Plus, he says, many bakers want inventory control features for lot tracking and quality control in today’s regulatory challenged environment.

Making the right decision can be difficult, but the good news is that ingredient handling systems offer options for almost every need.

No buyer’s remorse period needed.

Editor’s Note: Check out our online Buyer’s Guide at www.snackandbakery,com for more information on ingredient handling systems.

Photo courtesy of Great Western Manufacturing.