Automotive specialist SAS Automation dived into the bakery sector three years ago and says it plans to be a major player in de-panning within the next two.
SAS Automation specializes in end-of-arm grippers for the automotive industry and now has grippers and vacuum cups for de-panning in bakery.
In business for 16 years, the firm has been working in bakery for just three but its national sales manager Nick Rigola said SAS Automation is as competitive as any other bakery equipment firm.
“We will be a major player in the de-panning industry,” Rigola told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“We want to go after the Bimbos, the Nestlés – the companies of that stature – those are the companies putting automation in from start to finish.”
Currently the business balance is 85% automotive, 10% palletizing and just 5% for food – “so we haven’t even scratched the surface with food”, he said.
For the time being the food segment is just bakery, but Rigola said the company has received requests from other sectors. “With a suction cup and vacuum you can pick up lots of foods,” he said.
The aim is to grow the food part of the business to around 30% within the next two years, he added.
Transferring skills from cars to buns
The engineering behind gripper tools used to pull out hot plastic car moulds is similar in terms of the need for precision and delicacy, Rigola said.
“In the automotive industry, when those plastic parts come out of the moulds they can be very hot – sometimes even hotter than 150⁰F. So when you pull out a plastic part you don’t want to make a scratch on it – those parts have to be blemish-free,” he said.
The teams behind our engineering and production are working to extremely high levels for the automotive sector and these skills are of great benefit when shifting into bakery, he said.
Automation opportunities in bakery
Rigola has hope for growth in the bakery sector given the increasing shift for bakers to automate more of the production line.
“The baking industry is starting to get into automation from start to finish. This is recent – it’s just in the last couple of years it’s really taken off,” he said.
“In any business now it’s about mass production and pennies on the pound – it’s going to be the future.”