Fibre King’s custom solution reduced waste, including food waste, labour, electricity and improved safety.
The Challenge: AGB was faced with a high level (10%) of reject baked product at their processing facility. The issue for this waste stemmed from the dough handling equipment prior to being baked, it was not being rolling out equally along the length of the dough and they were seeing weight discrepancy from end to end. This led to out of specification breads being rejected after baking. This not only wastes the dough but also capacity through the ovens which is a key limit to production. They had also recently had their Bakery Audited for Hazardous Zones Certification and the dough preparation area was classified as a zone 21, due to excessive flour dust generated by part of the existing process. There was a need to improve the process to reduce the Hazardous Zoning.
The Solution: Fibre King designed a new dough flouring and conditioning conveyor system with control to reduce Hazardous Zone classification.
Fibre King was familiar with AGB’s requirements having designed and installed case & product conveying systems, an RSC case packer and Robotic palletising system in their facility. It was off the back of this successful project that AGB had confidence in Fibre King’s ability to deliver a solution even though it wasn’t part of Fibre King’s core range of equipment.
The new system included a top and bottom compression conveyor, with a flour hopper to lightly dust the top felt conveyor belt. The dusting was regulated to minimise the amount of airborne flour. The top conveyor was controlled to run at approximately 75% the speed of the bottom belt, forcing the dough piece to roll under the top belt, picking up 90% of the flour that was dusted on the belt, it also ensured the dough pieces were now consistently sized in both diameter and length.
A small acceleration belt, servo controlled, was used to ensure consistent gapping of the dough rolls. The previous system allowed two rolls to join together and form one large roll.
A pair of pre-moulding conveyors were utilised to elevate the dough to the high-level conveyor of a dough settling block.
For compliance with the Hazardous Zone classification all of the electrical hardware and controls were removed from the local area and positioned in a panel on the wall. A simple HMI gave the operators control of the conveyor positions and speeds for different product sizes.
The customer was very involved in the initial design of the system, working with Fibre King’s mechanical and electrical engineers in selecting belt materials that they had used previously with very good results.
A lot of emphases was placed on the operator control as well as the maintenance access and the ability to easily replace and change components as required.
On completion of the mechanical and electrical design, Fibre King presented the proposal to their team and conducted a design review with all the relevant stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to discuss the new features and control that would soon be available.
A third-party consultant was also used to help on the Hazardous Zoning Certification and ensure all of the equipment used within the Hazardous Zone area were compliant.
“Throughout the entire project from enquiry to delivery it was a pleasure to work with Steve Beale and his team at Australian Garlic Bread, George Weston Foods. Steve knew exactly what he wanted to achieve and provided the Fibre King team with advice on what would work well in the application. Steve has many years of experience maintaining and operating processing and packaging machines in the bakery environment.” – James Windsor CEO of Fibre King.
With the hazardous zoning classification, the design was quite stringent as we had to ensure the felt conveyor belts did not produce static and become an ignition source for the airborne flour dust. Part of the design constraint was to minimise the amount of flour dust produced in a bid to remove the Hazardous Zone classification. By limiting the amount of flour dispensed from the hopper and making sure that the flour not consumed by the dough was captured in a bin we were able to significantly reduce the risk cause by airborne flour dust.
The system as a whole was a great improvement over the existing process. This resulted in significant ROI for the customer due to the reduction in wasted dough, labour and electricity.
The main electricity saving was through the reduction in waste product which was approximately 10% prior to the installation of the Fibre King Dough conveyors. That meant that 10% of the oven capacity was wasted baking out of specification Dough rolls. The out of specification dough also contributed to stops on the downstream packaging equipment.
“Reduction in waste including food waste, labour and electricity were the major achievements of this project”. Says James Windsor.
The dusting and pre-conditioning of the dough roll and the gapping of the dough rolls greatly helped to improve the regularity of the dough rolls that were presented to the Oven.
The automated conveyors supplied improved the quality of the finished product but also reduced the labour required. Prior to the new equipment being installed AGB had a full-time quality assurance person standing after the conditioning inspecting every roll and rejecting the ones which were obviously out of specifications. This quality measure helped reduce rejects but it was expensive and approximately 10% of the dough rolls entering the oven were still rejected in the packaging area due to being out of specification. This was not only a food waste issue but a waste of available throughput of the oven and electricity waste.
After installing the automated dough conveyors the waste at the packaging area has been considerably reduced. The hazardous zone classification has been reduced considerably due to the containment of the flour.
“The benefits from rectifying the issues with out of specification dough were seen through the entire downstream production line. The improved control of the flour dosing helped to reduce the hazardous zone classification. The reduction in rejected finished product saved electricity, improved productivity, reduced material waste and reduced stops on the packaging equipment freeing up the operators to focus on more productive tasks.” Says James.
“Australian Garlic Bread has worked with Fibre King on a number of large projects including a recent upgrade to our packaging lines. This upgrade included a new RSC End Load Case Packer and Robot palletiser with five pick and palletise positions. We run fourteen different SKU’s so the Case Packer and Palletiser had to be flexible enough to handle the different configurations.
I found working with Fibre King really easy right from developing the project specifications through to commissioning the final solution. If we had any questions or issues they were always happy to help and provided prompt reliable responses.
When we were having trouble achieving consistent sizes of our garlic bread rolls I had no worries turning to Fibre King to assist me. I knew what I wanted and knew it was outside the normal equipment that Fibre King supplied but I was comfortable to work with the Fibre King team knowing that I could rely on their engineering team to deliver what I needed.
I worked with Dale and the engineering team and we developed, dough rolling conveyors with integrated flour dispenser followed by a pair pre-moulding and elevating conveyors which maintained the size and shape of the dough rolls as they were fed to the slicer.
The product that Fibre King delivered performed well. During commissioning we had to make a few modifications and I was impressed by how quickly they were able to make the changes required. I am looking forward to working with Fibre King on future project and general engineering needs.”