Banner-Day Bakery Solutions

Oven Automation Planning

Once you have completed the mechanical reviews, evaluations and eventual repairs, replacements or upgrades as discussed in Part 1, you are now ready to consider your automation goals and options. As complex as this process can be, setting goals for the process ultimately should include high level goals of:

  • Maximize Oven Availability
  • Maximize Oven Throughput
  • Maximize Oven Utilization
  • Minimize Unscheduled Downtime
  • Minimize Maintenance

In addition to setting goals, develop a plan which takes into consideration the following automation needs: 

  • Burner Management
  • Temperature/Heat Management
  • Motors, Drives, Conveyors, etc.
  • Recipe Management
  • Information Collection
  • Operation Trending
  • HMI – Complete Visual Overview of the Oven Operation
  • Alarms/Diagnostics

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Upgrading automation is a necessary consideration today given the aging of ovens, their legacy control technology; and the pressures we have regularly discussed of product variability and quality demands with bread and rolls. Although the focus is on automation for bread and rolls for large commercial bakery ovens, bakers should also consider, if they are not, automation for muffin griddles, cookies, crackers and other baked goods as well.

Measurement Planning 

With automation and controls think of the changes that have occurred with automobiles comparing the past vehicles which were mechanical and analog versus todays vehicles which are digital and computer controlled. With on board computers, the performance of the vehicles are enhanced with regular diagnostic measurements that can be communicated to the owner for appropriate operation and maintenance. So when we translate the analogy of the automobile to baking the analogy holds true. The baker, with automation, can follow the lead of the automobile industry and change older bakery ovens from analog/manual to digital/computer controlled; enabling the bakers to manage the vital signs of the ovens that can be easily monitored.


Closely aligned with overall oven automation and the development of your automation plan is the attention to IoT - Internet of Things. This brings attention to not only automation but remote access which can’t realistically be effective without automation. With automation and remote access the baker can effectively measure oven operations and trends that enable oven optimization. Key oven operations that then can be monitored and controlled include:

  • Burners
  • Zones
  • Temperature/Heat
  • Recipe
  • Energy
  • And More 

In spite of the challenges for IT, the results of remote access provide not only internal monitoring capability but access to technical support distant to the bakery. This capability provides the baker with unique insight, experience and skills not available through the baker’s in-house resources. This remote access can provide critical and more timely diagnostics for oven corrective action.

Capital Planning

Eventually all the planning of the physical and mechanical systems and parts of the bakery oven will be completed and the digital controls and resources will be thought through. Putting all of these elements together will lead to the critically important point of capital budgeting for the oven project. These elements will help form the foundation for the capital budget and business analysis:

  • Develop Best System Controls
  • Develop Comprehensive Plan
  • Minimize Operator Involvement
  • Labor Reduction or Optimized Utilization
  • Increased Efficiency
  • Improved Quality Control
  • Increased Throughput 

Integral to the capital budget process is developing a comparision analysis of the past performance of the oven with the desired and future planned performance. The following provides a representation of what you will want to consider in this process of your oven capital planning:

  • Increase Availability
  • Increase Utilization
  • Increase Throughput
  • Reduced Downtime
  • Increased Quality
  • Reduced Scrape
  • Improved Maintenance

These are important factors, and there may be others important to your bakery, to consider when developing your Return on Investment (ROI) or Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). The former is a common performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of your investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. The later is a simple way to calculate the ratio of fully productive time to planned production time. For most capital planning these alternate calculations can support and justify the planned investment selection for the bakery. Another positive output of these calculations and analysis is that you will be able to properly manage your capital distribution from a onetime project expenditure or an incremental or phased project over a specified time.


Before making a capital investment and upgrade in your oven, consider a maintenance review of air/gas mixers, combustion air blowers and burners for operating deficiencies. Often times, if these deficiencies can be corrected, the improvement can favorably impact the oven’s heating and throughput performance. If after ensuring you have completed all maintenance and repairs identified, the oven is still not providing the performance desired to meet your needs, then it’s time to seriously consider a capital investment to upgrade your oven controls and associated oven systems.


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