Saving Costs and the Planet, One Loaf at a Time

We are living in an increasingly environmentally aware world, where ‘going green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ solutions are not just brand marketing buzzwords anymore, but committed company-wide programs to manage energy continuously as a function of the business.

Successful energy management is not just about installing new energy efficient technologies. It’s a continuous process that starts by analyzing current power consumption, setting realistic goals and implementing good operational and maintenance practices. It also has to be a commitment shared by every employee. In terms of heat energy, the single biggest energy consumer in a bakery is the oven. Baking ovens generally account for as much as 45% of a bakery’s overall energy consumption.

Heat Recovery Systems

Dr. Christoph Adams, CTO, WP Bakery Technologies, explained for Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit that “energy can be saved right at the machine through efficient heat exchangers, good insulation and/or reproducible processes through electrical controls, which is always better than working with less efficient machines and then trying to recover the resulting higher waste heat through energy recovery.” He added: “New, highly-efficient technology can be expected to increase energy efficiency by 20-30 % compared to outdated technology.”

Despite the proven long-term advantages, Dieter Knost, managing director, WP Industrial Bakery Technologies, said that only about 10% of their new clients choose a heat recovery system at the time of the first investment. The main barriers for a wider early adoption of energy-saving solutions being the high initial cost, or, in case of a production line upgrade – the duration of the downtime.

Heating Conveyor Belts

However, as much of 25% of the oven’s energy consumption goes into heating the conveyor belt and the baking tins. Fabio Conti – global product manager, food, IPCO, shared some insights regarding key energy saving solutions specific to conveyor belts: “Solid steel belts are lighter than wire mesh – perforated steel belts lighter still – so they cost up to 30% less to heat. Each time the belt exits the baking chamber, it begins to cool and has to be heated up again, so the potential savings are significant and ongoing,” he told us, adding that “As well as being heated, conveyors also have to be powered through the oven, which is another important factor to consider. And once again, the weight advantage of a steel belt results in lower energy costs as less energy is needed to ‘drive’ the belt through the oven. This benefit is even greater with a perforated belt.”

This is a straightforward solution that can even be retrofitted to existing production lines with a downtime as small as two weeks. It has become an increasingly popular demand in the APAC region. Conti explained: “The Asian market is of growing importance to IPCO and much of this is due to the versatility of the steel belt – the ability to upgrade from mesh and produce a whole range of additional baked products is a major market advantage.”

You can read more in our print magazine Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit (Autumn 2018)

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