Equipment Snapshot: MECATHERM has joined forces with ABI LTD to launch MECABAGEL, an industrial production solution for bagels that is unmatched on the market.

This partnership (operational in Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, South America, Middle East and Africa) is a world first which has created a line specially designed for bagel production so that manufacturers can produce bagels as close as possible to a traditional method while optimizing industrial performance.

"The bagel market is growing, particularly in Europe and Asia-Pacific. There are many varieties and take-out bagel sandwiches are a trend that is currently developing all over the world. The potential of this market is encouraging and especially interesting for our customers looking to diversify production", explains Olivier Sergent, president of MECATHERM. "We know the ABI LTD teams well and we have already worked on several bagel line installations together because our equipment is complementary. It seemed to be a smart choice to combine our expertise and work on a shared product offer to give manufacturers a quality solution specific to the manufacture of bagels. That is how MECABAGEL was born."

Alex Kuperman, CEO of ABI LTD adds, "We are delighted with this partnership for market development. Our in-depth knowledge of the bagel and our experience of the product for over 30 years, combined with MECATHERM's recognized know-how in baking, means that we can offer a particularly efficient production line to manufacturers who want to enter the buoyant bagel market. The MECABAGEL production line is designed to meet the specific characteristics of the product at each stage of production. The quality of the finished product, produced as close as possible to traditional methods, is excellent. And because the processes are optimized, fully automated and controlled by intelligent tools, the MECABAGEL line delivers a high level of industrial performance. Finally, the flexibility of MECABAGEL makes it possible to fine tune the process to obtain the finished product required: New York bagels, Montreal bagels or a bagel specific to a particular country or region."

MECABAGEL is a complete solution that is flexible and focused on the production of authentic products. It is a comprehensive production line for bagels, from the start of the assembly line to deep freezing. MECATHERM provides the equipment for dough proofing and retarding, product sampling, baking, cooling and freezing. ABI LTD supplies equipment for cutting and forming the dough and, further down the line, after fermentation, equipment to boil, seed and dry the product before baking.

The key stages on the MECABAGEL production line:

  • Dough cutting and shaping (by ABI). Bagel dough has two characteristics that give the bagel its distinctive ring shape. It is particularly dense as it is made from a high protein flour (gluten rate between 13 percent and 16 percent), and it has a low rate of hydration (on average between 45 percent and 52 percent). To ensure that the final product is of high quality and as close as possible to the traditional bagel, the dough is shaped, not cut. On leaving the kneader, the dough passes through the divider to obtain dough pieces which are then shaped and rolled around a shaft to give the bagels their characteristic ring shape.
  • Fermentation: Proofing and retarding (by MECATHERM). The bagels are then placed on fermentation trays called peel boards as they enter the fermentation stage. The bagel generally requires a two-phase fermentation: parboiling at very high temperatures, then "retarding" in a cold atmosphere, to stop fermentation and firm up the product by creating a thin superficial skin. This crucial step in the bagel production process brings together a multitude of details, essential to product quality and industrial performance. The knowledge acquired by MECATHERM over more than 15 years makes it possible to respond to each of these challenges: preservation of the shape and surface of the product, development of volume and aromas, preparation for sampling, quality of heat exchanges, management of hygrometry, absence of condensation, absence of corrosion in a very aggressive environment, flexibility of process times and "cleanability".
  • Boiling, seeding, drying (by ABI). The bagels are now taken from the trays in direction of the boiler. This is an essential step which gives the bagel its paradoxically shiny crust which is both firm and supple, and which prepares the consumer, from the first bite, for a soft and very aromatic crumb. For this stage, a very original spray treatment has been developed by ABI that replaces standard immersion. This ensures high quality boiling under conditions that result in excellent industrial performance with lower energy consumption and ease of cleaning and maintenance. The boiling stage is completed by seeding to decorate and personalize the product. The MECABAGEL line ensures regular seeding despite the humid and hot atmosphere.
  • Baking (by MECATHERM). Once these stages are completed, the bagels move on to the oven where they will be traditionally baked on the floor or hearth of the oven. Baking the bagel requires a lot of energy from the start of cooking, to ensure its development and prevent sticking. The dough has been made very sticky in the boiling process. It also requires mastery of baking parameters and especially control of the humidity of the oven. Depending on market expectations, the hearth of the oven is available with or without marks. For a bagel with a smooth underside, FTP technology with metal bands is recommended; and if a hearth marking is acceptable, IBA and Las Vegas award-winning M-TA oven technology will be best. The power, precision and flexibility of this oven means that precise adjustments can be made to respond to the constraints of the bagel. Finally, particular attention must be paid to removing the bagels from the oven, as the delicate crust of the bagel is not yet sufficiently consolidated and may become deformed if not handled with care.
  • Cooling and freezing (optional) (by MECATHERM). As with the majority of products now on the market, there will be high demand for short production runs, with a wide variety of customizations. This means that manufacturers must be able to manage a large number of change-overs during the week and ensure that cross-contamination from one product to another is not possible. They must also be able to access products between cooling and freezing to personalize or slice them and be able to manage quick stops in the packaging area for packaging changes. These are all challenges to which MECATHERM can respond with its creative solutions, that replace traditional spirals, for managing the cooling and freezing area.
  • Production line mechanization (by MECATHERM). Whether it be for proofing, retarding or cooling, the assembly line is equipped with M-UB universal handling systems from MECATHERM. This novel handling solution patented by MECATHERM combines aspects of "pater noster" and "swing" type mechanization. Flexibility, ease of maintenance and cleaning, and product and personal safety are all key characteristics of M-UB. It ensures product quality and industrial performance, which explains the success of this equipment in a wide variety of applications.
  • Smart-management tools (by MECATHERM) The MECABAGEL line is equipped with digital user support solutions:
    • An instinctive and user-friendly interface that facilitates operation, production monitoring and traceability on the line.
    • A predictive and preventive maintenance module that alerts the operator in case of need for inspection or maintenance of equipment, and provides maintenance recommendations.