How Advances in Quality Control Technology Improves Baguette Production

Baked goods is one of the most popular food markets, with an estimated 200 billion dollars spent each year on these types of products. As with most food products, competition, production developments, and cultural influences have presented consumers with a bigger variety to choose from than ever before.

With a combination of large national or global companies with smaller regional or local bakeries, the market is highly competitive, Although the spending on raw ingredients may seem minimal, bakeries often operate on extremely small margins due to production, energy, and labor costs.

Approximately one third of the bakery market consists of bread, where premium products such as baguettes and other French and Italian breads are typically sales and profit leaders. Securing customer loyalty and making consistently high-quality goods is crucial to effective operation.

Quality Control Parameters in a Bakery

A fine example is the baguette, which has a classic appearance and shape and is a highly traditional yeast-type bread. The top crust’s appetizing appearance is created by the signature cuts or splits on the baguette.

Baguettes are additionally shaped and baked in pans or free from sheets, which can lead to irregularly shaped loaves and appear as curved as bananas or baseball bats. Customers do not anticipate these shapes. The length, width and volume must also be consistent, and color is also a key indication of mouthfeel, texture, and baking completeness.

Most modern bread products are partially baked (par-baked) at a factory prior to being baked at the local bakeries, which means it is imperative that their color is correct to ensure the final product does not appear too dark or light. Some features of the loaf such as the splits have differing browning features.

Application: 100% Inspection and Rejection of Baguettes

Sightline Process Control Inc’s automated vision inspection system is a modern technology that has been employed by leading bakeries.

These systems allow a complete inspection of each baguette produced by automatically conducting almost any possible visual measurement at high velocity, analyzing up to 100 objects each second.

The essential feedback needed to 'dial-in' the process precisely comes through inspecting each baguette, and the inclusion of automatic rejection makes certain that if a defect is found, it will never reach the customer.

Every Sightline vision inspection system is supplied with the measura™ software suite which offers more than 100 distinct measurements as standards, such as length, width, slope, true L*a*b* color, height, volume, diameter, and more. New measurements algorithms are added often and made accessible to all systems.  

Conventional size measurements conducted include:

  • 2D Geometry
    • Length, width, area, averages, minimums, maximums, and centers.
  • 3D Geometry
    • Height, volume (requires correction), predicted weight (requires density factor), slopes.

In addition, the measura™ software can provide measurements of complex product features that are difficult or impossible to manually quantify, such as ‘blobs’ and contour evaluation, providing an objective view of potential threats during the process.

  • Blobs
    • Baking defects (burns or blisters), splits, toppings, and more.
    • Uniquely defined color regions.
  • Contour assessment
    • Contour imperfections (rips, tails), roughness.

All the measured parameters can have lower and upper specification tolerance settings, a user-defined target, and, depending on the settings, upper and lower rejection constraints configured to reject baguettes or sound an alarm.

Vision Inspection in the Bakery

Sightline’s vision inspection technology is available in three systems:

Overline – Installed directly over current conveyors, the overline system offers 100% inspection from the top for the continuous monitoring of quality.

In-line – The in-line system is tailored to be installed directly into a current production line. It offers 100% inspection and automatically rejects products that fail specifications.

Benchtop – The benchtop system can be easily installed at-line or in a laboratory to assist in the development of recipes or product testing aims, or to make QC assessments automatic. A washdown version is also available.

Each of the systems is provided with the measura™ software suite, comprising of the following apps:

  • measura Inspection – operations and measurement software
  • measura Analytics – provides detailed reporting features
  • measura Toolbox – product measurements can be intuitively configured
  • measura Dashboard – offers remote monitoring of important limits and parameters on any device anywhere in the plant

Sightline vision inspection systems are manufactured in Ottawa, Canada, and are supported by an international team of applications and vision inspection experts.

In-Line System. Image Credit: KPM Analytics

Figure 1. In-Line System.

Par-baked baguettes passing through the vision inspection system

Figure 2. Par-baked baguettes passing through the vision inspection system.

3D Height Analysis.

Figure 3. 3D Height Analysis.

This information has been sourced, reviewed, and adapted from materials provided by Sightline Process Control Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Sightline Process Control Inc.

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