Hot Times In Vegas
by Dan Malovany
In the end, there were many smiles on the Las Vegas Convention Center floor because the International Baking Industry Exposition exceeded many attendees’ expectations, in more ways than one.
Oh, you could hear the gnashing of teeth for months before the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) began. It’s going to be in August in Las Vegas. It will be too hot. Nobody’s going to show up. The international visitors will be on vacation. If it’s a bust, what will happen to the show when it’s held in Orlando three years from now? Ahhhhh!
Maybe all of the fear and loathing got the baking industry motivated. Despite the odds, IBIE came out a winner. By the end of the show, which ran from August 15 to 18, there were a lot of pleased, if not smiling exhibitors, on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Optimism, albeit cautious, abounded while enthusiasm could be found in many booths throughout the two halls.
In all, a total of 19,640 industry professionals attended the show, including 3,925 international registrants from 96 countries. Yes, the overseas contingent turned out despite worries about the heat and summer holidays. Moreover, the so-called “check writers” showed up. They weren’t just window-shopping either. They were kicking the tires and asking for test-drives, so to speak.
As they say in the business, the quality of showgoers more than made up for the quantity of attendees, which wasn’t too shabby either. Just ask the exhibitors.
“Someone asked me, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?’ I said, ‘A 10,’” said Richard MacArthur, vice president of sales and marketing at AMF Bakery Systems.
Added Mike Cornelis, national sales manager for Chicago Metallic, “It was a good show, maybe one of the best ever. The naysayers said that the Europeans wouldn’t come [and] that they would be on holiday in August. Yes, some weren’t here, but there were many more who showed up.”
Even the weather cooperated, for the most part. Temperatures ran in the cool 90s, rather than the 115°F range the week before when water-guzzling exhibitors were setting up for IBIE, which is co-sponsored by the American Bakers Association and BEMA, the baking industry suppliers’ association. It even rained and stormed during the show, which cooled off the town, but unfortunately flooded out a couple exhibitors’ booths when a storm sewer backed up. Hopefully, they got their money back.
Oh, I shouldn’t have said that? Well, I’ve got news for you, buddy. You know the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” In the case of your intrepid reporters, who wined, dined and had a good time in the West’s answer to the City that Never Sleeps, our new slogan is this: What happened in Vegas, gets reported here.
Fortunately for a select few, and you know who you are, the surreptitious photo shoots that our P.I. took at the houses of the scantily clad and of questionable repute were hopelessly damaged because someone really stupid checked the film in his luggage. Dang new X-ray machines. Yes, we also saw you admiring the sequins at the Liberace museum. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Yes, you’re off the hook, for now. So relax, kick back with a cold one and take a tour of IBIE 2004 with us. Lady Luck is smiling on you in more ways than one.
Carbs, Carbs and Mo’ Carbs
In Vegas, early to bed and early to rise is not only wise, but it also meant I didn’t lose a ton of money at the blackjack table the night before. Wide-eyed and ready to roll, I began scampering around the convention center scouting out the latest and the greatest like Benny Hill on puppy uppers.
Our first order of business involved visiting ConAgra Food Ingredients Co., which was introducing its revolutionary Ultragrain White Whole Flour. The breakthrough ingredient combines the nutritional benefits of 100% whole wheat with the taste, texture and finished baked qualities of refined flour.
Dave Colo, president of ConAgra’s Specialty Ingredients Group, and Don Brown, vice president of marketing of its Milled Ingredients division, were ecstatic about the media play that Ultragrain had received over the week prior to the show. According to some reports, the breakthrough ingredient was touted in more than 300 stories ranging from USA Today to “The Today Show” as a better-for-you alternative to traditional refined flour.
Under development for several years, Colo noted, Ultragrain is a combination of a specific wheat strain and new, patent-pending milling technology that gives whole wheat the properties of refined flour. The product can be used in everything from focaccia to the yummy warm waffles with powder sugar that I was munching on at the time.
Brown added that Ultragrain struck a cord with the popular media because the ingredient is perfect with the overall consumer trends toward health and wellness. By reaching out directly to consumers, ConAgra is creating consumer awareness so that bakers can use the Ultragrain logo to promote the benefits of their products. To further build the brand, the company has hired Dr. Dean Ornish as the spokesman for the product.
Hungry for more news and better-for-you snacks, I sauntered over to MGP Ingredients, which produces Arise 5000 wheat protein isolate and Fibersym 70 resistant starch to help bakers produce low-carb products.
As I chomped on peanut butter cookies with 2 gm. net carbs, Jack Walker, general manager of MGP’s food division, told me how Fibersym 70 helps bakers reduce carbs, increase protein and raise fiber level by as much as 70% in some products.
Searching for more tasty treats, I hightailed it over to SPI Polyols, which featured a sugar-free line of baked goods featured by Starr Culinar Delights of Mississauga, Ont. As I snarfed down a bite-sized blueberry cheesecake, Jerry Roland, director of marketing for specialty products, told me it had only 6 gm. net carbs — 1 gm. from the cheesecake filling and 5 gm. from the graham cracker crust. SPI, he added, was an expert in tailoring formulations to lower sugar levels.
All of those sweet goods made us thirsty, so I schlepped over to Azteca Milling for some bottled water. There, Don Schleppegrell, senior vice president of sales, and Rick Norton, sales manager, told me how Azteca’s new and improved corn flour can not only be used in tortillas and other Mexican foods, but also in cookies, crackers, bread, rolls and sweet goods to give them Tex Mex flavor notes.
“It’s a good vehicle to either reach out to Hispanic consumers or to reach new consumers with a different product,” Schleppegrell said.
To prove it, they brought me an array of products made with corn flour, including a green-and-red chili muffin, warm bread pudding, chicken nuggets and a potato pancake with Mexican salsa, sour cream and caviar on top. In addition to providing a nice twist to new products, corn flour contains high-impact complex carbohydrates that make it good for you and water-binding functionality that allows it to extend shelf life longer, Norton added.
Not done eating, I visited with Cargill, which along with Horizon Milling, showcased heart-healthy, lower-carb and trans-fat free products. There, I could select from heart-healthy oat bread and reduced net-carb bread to trans-fat free cereal bars and reduced net-carb shortbread cookies, with 72% fewer carbs than its full-carb counterpart.
In addition to TransAdvantage, which is a non-hydrogenated, palm oil shortening that’s low in trans fat, Cargill featured Em Tex modified starches that can replace up to 50% of the eggs in a baked product. With egg prices at an all-time high, Em Tex is a good way to cut costs and improve the product’s nutritional profile by cutting cholesterol, said Wendy Erickson, food bakery scientist.
Feeling energized, I swung over to Capway Systems to check out Robocap system, which robotically stacks and unstacks pans. Moreover, Capway featured modular Cap-step elevator systems that can be used in a final proofer, cooler, freezer or a high-capacity oven to produce everything from finger rolls and petit pains to pizza and par-baked mini-ciabatta.
I then had a good conversation with Bob Moore, president of AZO Ingredient Automation. Here, the story was about AZO’s DosiBox, which I first saw at iba 2003 in Germany.
“Our goal was to develop a minor and micro ingredient system that was more cost-effective for the baking industry,” Moore said.
The standard system 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 built at AZO’s plant in Tennessee, where it 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. It’s the right system for any baker who’s concerned about product consistency, quality and food safety, Moore said.
Before I knew it, the day had ended, so I immediately headed to the Independent Bakers Association reception at the Hilton. There, I sipped on some fine wine, meaning that whatever was said to me was “off the record,” and gauged the first day of the show. The verdict? Although attendance was a bit light, exhibitors were making good contacts. Folks expressed optimism for the rest of the show.
For some, cautious optimism changed to enthusiasm as show attendance dramatically picked up. At Burford Corp., located right at the entrance of the main exhibitor hall, bakers crowded the booth checking out the Smart Seeder/Topper.
That system automatically adjusts its settings to more accurately place seeds and toppings where they should be — on top of the product — and not on the pan or the floor. In addition to cost savings by reducing waste by 20% to 40% by increasing accuracy, the system improves product quality by providing equal distribution. Moreover, the Smart Seeder/Topper cuts down on sanitation and can be retrofitted easily to existing lines.
“This system is changing the world of toppings,” said Kurt Miller, sales director of technical service.
“This system is changing the world of toppings,” said Kurt Miller, sales director of technical service.
Having skipped breakfast, I headed over to Kerry Ingredients, which introduced several new snacks made with better-for-you ingredients. The new products were placed single-file on a rotating plastic conveyor. It was sort of like those sushi bars, where you can pick and choose as the food passes along. Some bakers even asked the folks at Kerry if they could buy the conveyor. Ha ha!
As I snacked on a turkey, provolone and olive spread sandwich built on a low-carb bun, Ned Finnell, marketing manager, predicted that more protein will be the next trend. In fact, the sandwich I was eating was protein-enhanced with soy powders, as were the fortune cookies revolving around the conveyor. Attendees could also munch heart-healthy key lime sugar cookies containing a trans-free emulsifier or lower-carb strawberry mini-toaster pastry bites made with a no-sugar-added fruit filling.
Having lowered my trans-fat levels and managed my carbs, I bopped over to Kwik Lok Corp., which featured a new printer that put product information in real time on the plastic Kwik Lok. Jim Forsythe, vice president of sales, said the company teamed up with Markem and Squid Ink, who supply printers so that bakers could put the packaged product’s time, shift, date, operator ID and line number on a Kwik Lok closer. In case of a recall or some other issue, the information is right there in front of consumers and customers. “We’re seeing more demand for improving food safety,” Forsythe said.
Over at Urschel Laboratories, “the size-reduction specialists,” I checked out the DiversaCut 2110 Dicer, which can produce 4,500 to 5,000 lbs. of stuffing an hour or about twice the amount of some previous models. About the same footprint as other dicers, the new model has a larger entry that can fit up to a half loaf of bread in it. No longer do you have to precut bread into smaller cubes. This nifty system saves you time, labor and money as well.
Speaking of saving time, Radio Frequency Co.’s Macrowave quickly dries freshly baked biscuits, crackers and snack foods. The advanced 7000 series model can also increase throughput on a typical oven by 30% as it reduces moisture levels.
But there’s more. Tim Clark, vice president of marketing noted that RF technology could also be used for the sterilization and pasteurization of ingredients, and even in the deinfestation of flour. I never knew that.
Looking for more curiosities, I hip-hopped over to Heat and Control, which rolled out the FastBack seasoning system that provides more uniform coverage and less seasoning usage.
Craig Fasken, sales engineer for product handling systems, noted that the new seasoner had a built-in, polymer tumble drum, which one person can remove easily for quick changeovers and ease of sanitation. Moreover, it featured horizontal motion conveying that slides the unseasoned snacks forward. Traditionally, many systems use vibratory conveyors, which can result in damaged product, Fasken said.
All this running around was making me tired, so it was a perfect opportunity to have a relaxing conversation with Paul Bulman, Puratos Corp.’s brand manager for breads.
Here, I checked out the Sapore range of all-natural, biofermented flavors, which allow bakers to create their own secret recipe without having to spend the time to ferment the dough. The Sapore line comes in mild, sourdough, rye, wheat and sponge-and-dough flavors. These active/non-active flavors come in mild, strong or sour varieties, and they can be used on any production method. Later in the show, I would come by and convince one of the bakers to give me a warm baguette fresh out of the oven. Yummmmm.
Puratos also featured FROSTEC Solutions, which can solve any challenges with the production of frozen baked foods. For instance, it’s S-KIMO technology produces standard and tailor-made dough conditioners for medium- and long-term freezing. On the other hand, its PASO DOBLE systems minimize excessive crust flakiness in frozen par-baked products and extend the shelf life after the second bake. Puratos also featured solutions for everything from pre-proofed frozen dough to fully-baked frozen products.
If you want to minimize waste, you’ve got to check out the new Dough Recovery System (DRS) at Shaffer Manufacturing Corp. Here, Dave Goodmanson, western regional sales manager, and I watched a video showing 2,000 to 12,000 lbs. of scrap turned into sponge. First, the scrap is turned into a slurry using high-temperature water, then it ferments like a sponge, as in sponge and dough. A heat exchanger then chills the slurry down to 35°F before transferring to a glycol holding tank. It can be used for croissants, Danish, pancakes — you name it.
“You can put 30%, 40% or even 60% back into a dough and get the benefits of a great fermentation flavor, Goodmanson said.
“You can put 30%, 40% or even 60% back into a dough and get the benefits of a great fermentation flavor, Goodmanson said.
At Brolite Specialty Baking Ingredients, I asked Ken Skrzypiec, director of technical services, if he thought low-carb is a fad or trend?
“I don’t think that low-carb is going to die,” he said. “It will still be a small market. Consumers are trending toward healthier breads.”
To support that trend, Brolite featured multigrain and organic grains. The company had received a number of requests for organic-grown blends, such a combination of nine grains and seeds. Many bakers were looking to incorporate flaxseed into their breads and rolls as well.
All this talk about grains, fiber, protein and no-sugar-added was making me feel like a regular guy, if you get my drift. Hopefully, you didn’t. Ha, ha. So I tooted on over to National Starch, where David Husang, senior marketing manager, featured ingredients that can replace costly eggs on a one-to-one basis. It can be used in snack cakes, cookies and sweet goods instead of egg whites or whole eggs. The company also featured its Signature Selects culinary thickener, which is a revolutionary thickening agent for literally dozens of preparations like sauces, marinades and desserts.
Next, I swung by Beta Raven, which offered a minor ingredient systems fit for food security-conscious bakers. Don Root, general manager, explained that operators must first scan the barcode on the ingredient bag or container. If it’s the proper code, the minor ingredient bin unlocks. To avoid cross contamination or errors, only one lid can be open at a time. They need to close the lid before opening another. The system also has full lot tracking, so that bakers can prove that the proper ingredients went into the products.
Near the end of the day, I met up with Eric Riggle, president of Dunbar Systems Inc., who was pleased with the show so far. “We had the right type of clientele,” he said. “A lot of people were receptive to AutoBake’s proofing systems. People are excited about the small footprint.”
Most folks are familiar with AutoBake’s Serpentine system, which can produce snack cake, cakes and other sweet goods in a small space, especially compared with a tunnel oven. The new line replicates the traditional artisan bread-baking process and features a thermal oil oven. It offers robotic loading, scoring and a variable speed proofer. It’s a perfect fit for the forward-thinking baker, Riggle said.
Party All Night Long
Actually, it only seemed that long. First, Tom Wicevich, aka Mr. Judi Adams from the Foundation for the Advancement of Grain-Based Foods, and I had a few margaritas a reception sponsored by the ABA’s Executive Leadership & Development Committee (ELDC) and The Society of Bakery Women (SOBW). There, we spotted Virgil Smail, the new head at Kansas State University’s Department of Grain Science and Industry, adding some chardonnay to his margarita glass, creating a tequila-based wine cooler. Toga, toga!
Next, we bopped over to Rademaker USA’s bash, where I had a beer and munched on some tasty meatballs while “Mr. Cubs Fan Adams” consumed copious amounts of roast beef in a creamy horseradish sauce as he talked baseball with the chef, who was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Tom, you traitor!
Next, we stumbled over to The Long Co.’s reception where we consumed more drinks and snacks as we debated changing the Food Guide Pyramid to the Booze Guide Pyramid, which recommends consuming 6 to 11 servings of grain-based beverages daily. Maybe they should change the Wheat Foods Council to the Wheat Booze Council? That idea didn’t sound too good after we sobered up the next morning.
IBIE Exceeds Expectations
As a professional journalist, I had no problem rising early to visit with a happy Gary Edwards, president of Lallamand/American Yeast. “Yesterday, we had more visitors than we could handle,” he said. “We had everyone from chief executives to plant people. It’s been excellent.”
Lallamand introduced a line of mineral-enriched yeast that fits in with the whole better-for-you bread trend. The whole goal, says Edwards, was to create breads with “a better reputation.” Lallamand can create systems that contain minerals like zinc and chromium, antioxidants that help fight cancer or other vitamins that may help bakers make qualified health claims. The company is even working on taking probiotics from the supplement market and putting them into the baked goods arena.
At Fritsch USA Inc., Danny Kelly, vice president and general manager, talked about the company’s Multiline system, which is an all-rounder that’s ideal for small- and medium-sized bakers who have outgrown their current equipment but haven’t grown large enough to need a complex dough system.
The economical operation gently and continuously sheets doughs and can produce everything on one line from puff pastry and Danish to croissants and even ciabatta bread. The Multiline can also handle doughs that are chilled, need long pre-proofing times or even have high water-absorption rates. Bakers can see Fritsch’s automated lines in action at the Fritsch Baking Center and the Fritsch Training Center in Germany. Time for a road trip!
Afterward, I met up with Mike Beckert, project manager at Hosokawa Confectionery & Bakery, which specializes in customized equipment. Hosokawa can build everything from easy-to-assemble modular systems to turnkey systems that run everything from raw-material handling to enrobing.
“We put bakers’ ideas into workable systems,” Beckert said. “We’re not supplying any made-off-the-shelf equipment. We’re targeting industrial companies that are running 24 hours who need versatile systems with short changeovers. We find ways to reduce downtime.”
Meanwhile, Intralox featured a new flexible belt that eliminates downtime because it’s so durable. In addition, the company highlighted its expertise at reducing maintenance, eliminating metal contamination and offering labor and cost savings.
“We’re focused on our customers’ bottom lines,” said Catherine Bres, who’s in business development for the baking industry. “We’re working on solving our customers’ challenges.”
Meanwhile, Scott Hazenbroek at Systemate Numafa’s told me how its RWM washing and drying systems provided “unequaled cleaning and drying results” at a low cost per washed basket or tray. They speed up sanitation and cut down on water usage as well.
Feeling that I needed some mental exercise to keep up with the physical workout I was getting, I naturally went over to Thinkage, which provides cutting-edge monitoring technology to help bakers control the variables in the baking process.
Not to be confused with the former first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, Mark Grace, president and CEO of Thinkage, noted that the baking industry has changed dramatically over the last few years. Bakers, he said, need to know what’s happening on their production lines in real time. They need to be able to monitor moisture, temperature, humidity and other variables to not only produce quality products, but also to document to their customers that the product was produced according to spec. To do this, Thinkage calibrates sensors and wireless computers to monitor production as it happens.
“It’s not only the product,” Grace said. “It’s the product and the information you bundle with it. You have to be able to validate your product and protect your brand.”
After all of the exercise, I needed a break from the action so I had a nice quiet dinner with some friends and called it an early night.
In the Smile Business
On the last day of the show, everything was winding down, but overall, people were pretty happy with the show.
As Keith Graham, marketing manager at APV Baker, explained, “We saw more decision makers and key contacts and not a lot of lookers at the show. We have a lot of good leads, and we saw new customers, especially from Central America.”
APV introduced its Jetcirc oven with Unique Precision Airflow Control features that increase heat transfer by creating a higher and more predictable airflow. In fact, the direct convection oven can reduce baking by 30%. Bakers have the choice of achieving greater throughput with a Jetcirc oven the same size as their current one or maintaining their current output with a smaller footprint and reduced capital costs. APV also featured its Multitex4 moulder, which allows bakers to use less yeast and fewer improvers.
Likewise, Kerwin Brown, marketing manager at Schick Tube-Veyor Corp., gave IBIE a thumbs-up. “It’s been a really good show. We had good, quality leads,” he said. “There are a lot of people looking to move up from bags to automated [ingredient handling] systems.”
In addition to its bulk handling systems, Shick featured the Pro-Sack frame, which is used for totes or super sacks of minor ingredients. The simple post fame provides a smaller footprint, an open frame access for bag setup and easy maintenance, and bag staging within the frame. Moreover, the unloader features a non-cantilevered I-beam frame that provides cost savings by allowing multiple stations on one system.
Although many believe the low-carb trend has peaked, it still has plenty of legs and will be around for the foreseeable future, noted Mark Woodman, marketing manager for Caravan Products.
Specifically, Woodman added, bakers are searching for fortified ingredients and whole grains that will allow them to produce better-for-you products that differentiate their lines from others.
“There’s no abating of the low-carb trend,” he said. “Mr. Atkins came after us pretty hard, but we’re in the good-tasting bread business,” which is where wholesale bakers need to be to counter the carb craze.
Although the low-carb was front-and-center at many booths, bakers were focused on other issues as well. “We’re seeing lots of people asking about trans fat, and a lot of people talking about our POWERSoft enzyme,” said Terese O’Neill, business director at Danisco USA Inc.
POWERSoft, she noted, has been specifically developed to prolong the shelf life of sweet bakery products, such as cakes and muffins. “Not everyone is talking about low carb,” O’Neill added. “In fact, we’re going back to trends that we have seen for years, such as health and wellness. We have solutions for everything from making cookies to tortillas.”
Afterward, I sauntered over to The Peerless Group, where Wendi Ebbing, marketing manager, talked about the SuperGrain Model P3-SC SuperCurl Moulder. It’s a precision sheeting, moulding and forming operation designed to automatically produce quality curled breads. The moulder comes with a four roller sheeting head with cast iron side frames and gear-driven, Teflon-covered rollers with solid steel cores. Digital indicators on roller adjustments are accurate to 0.001 in. Now, that’s precise.
Meanwhile, its Peters division showcased a cream aeration system, which is capable of producing 100 to 600 lbs. of cream an hour. It can produce cream-, peanut butter- and cheese-filled biscuit and cracker sandwiches. Bakers can also aerate with oxygen or nitrogen, the latter of which is used for longer shelf life.
Over at ABI Automation Ltd., Regine Kuperman noted that bakers were checking out the company’s automated bagel production equipment. The Model RBPL 24000 line includes a 1,000-lb. dough trough, trough elevator, 1,000-lb. dough chunker, four-lane divider, two double bank bagel formers, four bagel machine discharge conveyors, a reciprocating conveyor, board/pan unstacker, board/pan index conveyor, board/pan accumulating conveyor and electrical control panel. ABI, she said, provides complete bakery automation solutions to meet today’s needs.
At Meincke, which gave me a nifty baseball cap, variety was the spice of life. The company’s V45 triple extruder, for example, can produce multiple-color products with two different fillings and a wide variety of other baked goods on one machine, noted Bettina Moelgaard, marketing coordinator. It’s perfect for bakers looking to provide innovation to the market place. Meinke also offers technical support in the United States. Check out www.meinke.com.
Sharing the booth was the venerable Spooner Vicars, which offered flexible, high-volume systems for bread producers, cookie makers, snack producers and more. For instance, the company’s bread lines can produce up to 12,000 loaves an hour. Moreover, its modular oven is designed for rapid installation and offers the flexibility to extend it and increase capacity at a later date as market demands increase.
For years, Lawrence Equipment has positioned itself as the experts in tortilla production. In fact, Dan Woodward noted that the company has a “pretty good handle on the production side.” At IBIE, Lawrence is now focusing on the end of the line with its Accuview Inspection and Rejection System, a photo-optic computer system that monitors everything from product diameters, flat edges and holes to overlaps, toast points and more. The system can sort up to eight lanes, each of which can handle 200 tortillas a minute.
Still going strong, I headed over to Rademaker USA, which featured its new Multibake line of modular ovens, which provide the optimum price/quality ratio. The company featured the Multibake “d” or directly heated oven with modulating burners and the Multibake “i,” which stands for impingement or indirectly heated oven. It also offered the Multibake “r” or radiant oven using the cyclotherm principle. Finally, the Multibake “h” is a hybrid, which offers multiple type of ovens grouped in a single unit.
By now, because I didn’t have breakfast, I was starving, so I headed over to ADM, where I inhaled a tasty fudge brownie with no trans fat and little other fat, a cinnamon Danish with no trans fat and an enriched multigrain bun to add fiber to my diet. Okay, maybe I didn’t need any more fiber. Phew!
There, I checked out ADM’s Superb Fluid Bread Shortening Systems, which act as effective dough conditioners and shelf-life extenders and provide the added benefit of allowing customized emulsifier mixing. With the systems, bakers can produce more tender and moist bread that has a greater loaf volume and softer crumb texture.
Re-energized with a belly full of carbs, I then hightailed it over to Douglas Machines Corp., which spotlighted its Cyclone Belt Washer for spiral conveyors, freezing tunnels, fryers/ovens and any other type of belt that allows for drainage. The washer helps bakers reduce downtime, remove allergens, save water and cut labor while providing maximum cleaning effectiveness.
After all of this work, I needed to relax and have some fun, so why not golf? Well, I didn’t get to play a round in the desert, but I did get to visit Precision Automated Technologies, where the robot picked up a golf ball, placed it on an artificial putting surface, grabbed a putter head and perfectly sunk the ball into the hole 4 ft. away. No yips? No misreading of the green. Perfect every time for the last four days. And I even got a sleeve of golf balls to go.
Actually, the golf ball demonstration creatively showed how Precision’s robotic systems can stack and unstack pans gently or denest everything from fluted paper to plastic to foil cups in round, square or rectangular shapes with “on the fly” capability.
Well, by now, I had my fill of carbs for the week. Everybody was smiling. It was a successful show. Sure, there was a lot of other strange things that we saw during our four days in Sin City, but in the end, we felt that some things best be unsaid.
As they say, what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas. So, you know who your are. You know what you did. Shame on you, but rest assured, I won’t tell a soul. Trust me. Hee, hee, hee.