Is automation the future for cakes?

The coronavirus pandemic has meant a lot of changes for the baking industry, with automation frequently coming up as the future for cakes.

Although many businesses and workers in Australia have been grateful to receive government support in the form of the Job Keeper payment throughout the COVID-19 crisis, bakery businesses in the US are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, as well as other issues such as an ageing workforce which has them asking “what’s next?”

Businesses have already pivoted spectacularly to remain open and relevant throughout these changing times, with drive-through services, delivery, take-away, online retail and contactless shopping ensuring continuing business.

But in terms of staying ahead of the game, one of the big trends predicted for the future of baking is more automation to improve efficiency and cut down on labour costs.

In fact, there are multiple machines featuring heavily on the market overseas that claim to do just this – from pouring, loading, icing and stacking layer cakes, to even taking out the time consuming task of decorating cakes and cookies.

The Apex Baker Bot (shown in the video below) is a collaboration between Apex Motion Control and Unifiller to create a solution for decorating cookies by integrating Unifiller’s Compact Depositor with Apex’s Baker-Bot in an automated decorating system.

Using camera sensors, the Baker-Bot can detect cookies for precise product application, ensuring consistent and exact decorations, and is also capable of tray management (unloading and reloading sheets).

Business development manager for British Columbia-based Unifiller Systems Inc. Terry Neithercut told Supermarket Perimeter grocery retailers are looking for a way to keep their cases full.

“It has been increasingly more difficult to find decorators in-store so setting up central commissary production provides many benefits including efficiency, product consistency and the ability to produce more in less time,” she said.

The company predicts that grocers will need to come up with a plan to reduce the number of people in the kitchen at one time in case of future resurgences of COVID-19 later this year and next year.

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