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Automation Solutions for Pizza Lines

The USDA recognizes pizza as a “high consumption food”, and their research shows that about 1 in 8 Americans eats pizza on any given day. And that was before the pandemic.

The effects of COVID-19 on the foodservice industry hugely increased the popularity of this food. Since people started eating more at home, frozen pizzas have been flying off the shelves, largely because they’re a convenient and tasty meal option that replicates the eating out experience people were missing.

As the demand grew, equipment manufacturers were there to provide automated and intelligent solutions that helped bakers get ahead of the competition in a time of crisis.

One such manufacturer is AMF Tromp, who recently announced the launch of a Smart Applicator Solution for pizza production. By facilitating automated quality and quantity control for pizza toppings such as cheese, this AI-based software solution enables pizza producers to minimize product waste and giveaway, reduce labor requirements, and operate more efficiently.

In conjunction with AMF Tromp’s pizza production machines, the Smart Applicator Solution can be retrofit or newly configured for the AMF Tromp Waterfall Applicator, a machine that deposits toppings, such as cheese, onto pizza products. The Smart Applicator Solution rapidly takes images of each item on the production line. Cloud-based software using artificial intelligence (AI) then collects and analyzes these images in real-time to determine whether the quantity and weight of the cheese topping is correct. While analyzing, this software adjusts the applicator’s speed and volume settings to deliver the optimal cheese distribution.

Using machine-learning technology, the Smart Applicator Solution optimizes this process over time, detecting and indicating any anomalies. Its baseline settings can also be used for quick production recovery or to make subsequent runs more effective. In this way, the Smart Applicator Solution accelerates production speeds and improves topping application accuracy by at least 3%. This results in pizzas with standardized topping distributions regardless of external influences, human interaction, or the sophistication of the AI technology.

This allows pizza producers to minimize the waste and giveaway of cheese – typically an expensive ingredient – as well as lowering their energy consumption. The automation enabled by the system can also reduce labor requirements and costs, since operators will not need to monitor cheese quantity or change the applicator machine’s settings. In this way, the solution drives efficiency, sustainability, and profitability for pizza producers.

Lex van Houten, Regional Marketing Manager EMEA of AMF Tromp, notes: “We’re proud to launch the Smart Applicator Solution, a service that brings automation to pizza production and embraces digitalization. As well as delivering improved quality control and efficiency for our customers, this solution will also provide us with insights into their future needs.”

You can read the rest of this article in the Summer Issue of World Bakers Digital magazine, which you can access by clicking here.

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