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Bakery uses its loaf for celebrations

23 September 2009

CenFRA has helped Fosters Bakery celebrate 50 years of food manufacturing by incorporating a solution for 'delivering' bread. The Barnsley-based bakery has progressed since its beginnings as a transport café.

To mark its 50th birthday as a limited company it introduced a 'baking robot' for unloading and loading a bread oven. The robot is set to increase the capacity of the bakery's morning goods department by 50% - with an estimated two-year payback - and eliminates the mundane and repetitive manual operation.

This latest investment in automation underpins Fosters' commitment to achieving operational excellence and its forward thinking approach to ensure its long term sustainability and competitiveness within Europe and the rest of the world.

Unlike many in the baking industry, Fosters has always embraced new technologies that have enhanced working efficiency, productivity and profits without compromising the quality of time honoured production techniques. However, the integration of the 'baking robot' at Fosters has been largely owing to the guidance and expertise from CenFRA, Europe's only centre for food robotics and automation.

CenFRA was engaged by Fosters to evaluate the robot, which had experienced teething problems owing to the sensitive nature of its heat sensors. CenFRA's research and development team came up with a new design and formulation solution for the robot and supported the re-evaluation and integration of the robot in the bakery.

Following the success of the 'baking robot' at Fosters, the company has already approached CenFRA about another automation project. Audits and simulation designs are already being carried out. Operations director at Fosters Bakery Michael Taylor, who is also the chairman of CenFRA, says technological advances in robotics and automation offer viable, gainful alternatives for almost any function of the production line.

He said: "Fosters Bakery has come a long way since Emily Foster started the business as a transport café in 1952. We've always been forward thinking and our willingness to integrate new technologies into this artisan industry has resulted in a significant increase in our levels of productivity and clearly shows the value of investing in automation."

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