Franz Family Bakeries has produced bread products in the North Western US since 1906 and commissioned a $42m bakery in Springfield, Oregon, as part of a centennial celebration.

The bakery was necessary since the old Williams Street facility had become too small for the company’s needs and also the University of Oregon, which had a part of its campus adjacent, wanted to build a new basketball arena.

The University purchased the old site for $22m and Franz Family Bakeries moved to the new 160,000ft² facility in August 2006, which is located in Nugget Way.

"The facility houses a new high-speed bread line that can produce 150 loaves a minute and a bun line that bakes up to 750 pieces a minute."

The facility houses a high-speed bread line that can produce 150 loaves a minute and a bun line that bakes up to 750 pieces a minute. The Springfield bakery enabled the company to better serve its southern territory, where it experienced geographic growth over the last few years.

The bakery has 20-25% more capacity than the operation it replaced. It is designed to be a 24-hour operation that can run 150 hours a week with two four-hour periods for preventive maintenance. There are currently 191 employees.

Franz Family Bakeries brands

The company has six bakeries that produce white breads, variety breads, rolls, buns, bagels, English muffins, cookies, doughnuts and sweet goods under the Franz, Williams, Snyder’s, Gai’s, Seattle International, Bay City, Smith’s and New York Bagel Boys brands. The company also sells products under franchised brands such as Innkeepers, Aunt Hattie’s and Milton’s.

The company delivers more than 1,200 types of baked goods throughout Washington and Oregon and east to Billings, Montana and south to Eureka and other markets throughout northern California. In addition, Franz serves parts of Alaska and national accounts with cookies and frozen baked goods. The bakery produces 50 different varieties of bread daily.

New baking systems

The Springfield bakery has several new systems that provide cost savings, increase product consistency and add versatility to the operation. The automatic pan storage-and-retrieval system eliminates a great deal of the lifting. The ergonomically friendly system is so advanced that it can be programmed to work 23 steps ahead of the lines current functions and handle up to 25,000 pans.

To provide front-end controls, the pre-programmed batching system can precisely dispense more than 15 minor ingredients such as salt, gluten and granulated sugar at rates of 50–120lb a minute into a 2,500lb hopper bin that feeds the mixers.

To lower energy costs a thermo-oil system was installed instead of a conventional boiler. Unlike water, which has to be reheated after each cycle, oil retains its heat and could save the bakery $80,000 to $100,000 annually in natural gas costs. This system, along with glycol water chillers and other infrastructure, is located on a mezzanine level to save floor space.

Programmable controls are also used throughout the bakery to enhance the operation. An air-cooling and purification system was installed to protect product integrity and provide worker comfort. Other features such as a patio for lunch breaks that allow for a view of the Cascade Mountains were devised to improve the quality of life at the bakery.

Bakery construction

The Springfield facility was designed by Portland-based TVA Architects and constructed by Wildish Construction. Located on a new 22 acre site in an urban redevelopment zone, the bakery was built in record time. The facility broke ground in May 2005 and took only 18 months before baked goods were coming off the lines.

The building has a tilt-up insulated concrete frame with a steel open-web truss structure. A small office component of 7,000ft² houses the marketing and office staff, with the possibility of a retail outlet store inside if required. The facility was also designed to accommodate future expansion, including 60% more production ability on the existing site.

The bulk of the shell is open for equipment, with a mezzanine floor for engineering and quality control staff. Structural bays are arranged so that the triple trailers align with overhead coiling doors, centred in the concrete tilt panels.

The wall in the ingredient warehouse can be removed to add production capacity in future phases of expansion. The necessary infrastructure for an in-line basket conveying system was also incorporated in the design.

Ingredient intake

The bakery takes delivery of an average of seven railcars a week of bulk flour via the covered rail spur located at the building’s southeast end. The seven large silos handle 360,000lb of white flour, 130,000lb of whole-wheat flour and 230,000lb of mixed grain flours.

Other ingredients enter the facility on pallets stacked with bags or cartons or in super-sacks all stored on three-tiered racking. Inside the two-storey ingredient room, 15 x 2,500lb bins are mounted with mezzanine access for loading of minor ingredients such as bulk cream yeast, sugar and shortening.

‘Sponge-and-dough’ system

To produce its breads and buns, Franz uses a ‘sponge-and-dough’ system. Sponges are produced in a 2,000lb horizontal mixer and receive a 4-4.5 hour ferment at a temperature of 80ºF and 80% relative humidity in an automated fermentation room with a capacity of 9,000lb per hour.

The semi-automated fermentation room for the bun line produces 5,000lb an hour. Two 2,500lb horizontal mixers feed the bread line every 10 minutes with a continuous stream of chunks feeding the divider. The bun line has a 1,200lb sponge mixer and 1,600lb horizontal mixer from where the dough is sent to the divider every 12 minutes.

Bread and bun production line

The versatile bread line has both a six-pocket piston divider for heavier variety breads and an extruder divider for premium white bread production. When the bakery is not using one divider, it uses the other with a duel-belt delivery system.

After rounding, dough pieces receive a 90-second rest before moulding and depositing into five-strap pans. To ensure consistency, a check-weigher monitors the dough pieces and electronically sends signals back to the divider to adjust their weight. The bakery uses a bread moulder that can be changed anywhere from a 32° angle for tender curl moulding to a 90° angle for less tight cross-grain moulding.

After proofing on a half-mile long dual spiral conveyor for about one hour, bread loaves bake for about 19–20 minutes in a 150ft tunnel oven. After passing through a post-oven topping system, the baked loaves travel through a one-mile long ceiling cooler for about 60 minutes at a rate of up to 9,000 loaves per hour before packaging.

The bun proofer can handle up to 7,500lbs of product an hour before baking for 7.5 minutes to 10 minutes and cooling for 20 minutes on a quarter-mile long ceiling conveyor.

Detection and packaging

The bakery uses two metal detectors on both its bread and bun lines. The bread line has three systems that slice, overwrap and bag loaves at a rate of 50 per minute. Another slicer-bagger is available for straight-line packaging. The bun line provides products for both retail and foodservice, and has two slicer-baggers, but also the capability to case-pack buns that can be delivered fresh or frozen to the company’s foodservice customers.

To get products out of the bakery as quickly as possible, the warehouse has nine bays that can load three triple-trailer transports at one time. The bread line capacity is 150 loaves a minute or 15,000lb an hour and the bun line capacity is 750 buns a minute or 7,500lb an hour.

Equipment and installation

Total cost of the equipment came to $22m, including installation. The company selected Shick IntelliBatch ingredient management and batch execution software that integrates the Shick ingredient storage and delivery system, Shaffer mixers, trough hoists and dough chunkers and a Stewart fermentation room. The facility also has a computerised pan management system, one of the largest built by Workhorse Automation.

The ingredient system draws bulk flour from the silos according to batch requirements and routes it through two Great Western stainless steel sifters. The Allen-Bradley PanelView touch-screen terminal allows the supervisor to ‘call’ ingredients individually.

"The Springfield bakery has several new systems that provide cost savings, increase product consistency and add versatility to the operation."

The bakery has AMF equipment including a ram-and-shear divider supplying dough balls to the bread line, a rotary bun divider, a dual-channel belt rounder and a Tend’r Kurl cross-grain moulder. There is also a Burford Smart Seeder for the delivery of seeds and other topping materials.

Pans of fully proofed bread are conveyed to the 150ft Turkington APV USA direct-fired gas tunnel oven. A Stewart bread depanner separates the loaves from the strapped pans. Buns bake in a Stewart conveyorised oven, which can handle 1,200lb every 10 minutes. As pans leave the depanners on both lines, they are ‘dry cleaned’ by a Henry Group pan cleaner to remove excess toppings and other debris.

A MAC dust collection system reduces the amount of flour dust in the bakery. Fortress Technology metal detectors were installed to monitor all products as they enter the bagging area.

Two bread bagging lines operate simultaneously, with a third held ready to run during changeovers or other stoppages. Each is equipped with a UBE slicer, overwrapper and bagger plus a Burford twist tier. Buns are channelled into multiple lanes as they move along to the two lines, each consisting of a LeMatic slicer and UBE bagger. Kwik Lok closures seal the bun packages.

Plant utilities include a GTS Energy thermal oil system for heating the proofers, PRO chill water system and the glycol system for the mixers, compressors for the fermentation room’s air conditioning system.