The company, headquartered in Barembach, France, is more than 50-years-old with 250 customers worldwide and 787 installations globally in 71 countries.
Supplier of reference
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks, Olivier Sergent, president, Mecatherm, said this global client portfolio gives them a ‘fantastic overview of what is expected from them whether they are Eastern European, Chinese, Russian or from the Middle East'.
“Our vision is to be the supplier of reference for the industrial bakery sector worldwide, not necessarily the biggest but the one to talk to if you have an installation,” he said.
“Customer experience is the pillar of our development. Innovation is driving our company. We will be showcasing this at IBA, Munich, Germany in September.”
According to Sergent, consumers no longer want the same product they used to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They want variety and they want to indulge at the weekends and holidays.
“We want products which are cheap and convenient for every day consumption but at the same time something expensive for the weekend such as dining in a restaurant or for a BBQ outdoors with friends and family.
“It's no longer enough to make bread on a mass scale, we need to fulfill customer’s expectations with new market development.”
Explosion of new products
Sergent added, what we are seeing now in the US for example, is an explosion of new references; a mix of croissant with a bagel, different textures, a combination of flavors, and so mannufacturers need flexible lines to make dozens of different references during the same week.
“We are seeing a paradox on one hand whereby manufacturers need high capacity lines for improving delivery time and service yet at the same time to be flexible, developing new lines to be first on the market,” he said.
“The world is changing increasingly fast and for a very long time the challenge for manufacturers was to play on their price/quality ratio.
“They wanted to have high quality products that were expensive, or more affordable, low quality products. But now, there is another parameter to take into account, which is variety and diversity. To play on this price quality/ratio is not enough, you need to have a wide range of products.
“The responsibility for our manufacturers is to define your own products to make your industrial life easier.”
According to Marie Laisne, product manager, Mecatherm, manufacturers need to be able to adapt to the changes in the market with more agility.
She said research by Mintel claims between 2012-2017, 8,000 new products arrived on the market.
“Customers want more variety and customized products therefore we have to ensure we can create large amounts of products and focus on this evolution towards this niche market towards more specific products,” she said.
“Every week our customers are adding more and more product references. They need to bring in new products quickly to suit the changing demands. That is why we created ‘a unique oven for a changing world’.”
She said the advantages of the sleek oven design include; flexibility to create a wide range of products thanks to its compact modules; numerous modes of heat transfer, the precision of flow homogeneity and managing the flow within the chamber.
It is efficient enough to reduce operating costs, and to make the baker’s life easier. The oven is simple and easy to use.
Mecatherm says it worked on some design elements of the oven to reduce energy consumption and it uses 10%-20% less energy consumption due to the engine it is using.
It has three baking zones for heating curve flexibility, for example, eg madeleine baking time is 14 minutes and the baker can change the settings three times to optimize the heating curve.
Each module is 25m2 and the most compact one is 17m long. Each baking zone is 10m2. The modules are completely independent with six heat transfer modes, with radiation or convection or a mix of the two.
In designing the handling system freezer/cooler, Mecatherm analysed other systems on the market to determine market industrial needs.
“There are many parameters we have to take into account focusing on suitability according to client specifications and total cost of ownership,” said Ophelie Caron, communication and project development manager, Mecatherm.
“Our strategy is to change the design to enable a smooth gentle process to meet customer expectations. Its not about aesthetics but practicality. Characteristics include no shock/friction, (ideal for transferring fragile bread buns) travelling homogeneity, process adaptability, accessibility, cleanability and reduction of maintenance.
“The handling system has a maximum speed of 540 trays per hour (the average is 400) with three swing types; double swing, triple swing quadruple swing.
“Each time we innovate as a company, we try to make it easier for the manufacturer to use our machinery. It is EHEDG approved with no retention of products within the machine. We have more restrictions now on hygienic design than ever before.”
Artisan and premiumization
Raymond Nogael, group director, marketing, Mecatherm said within the last 30 years, the trend was for a ‘mass market product’ which had an ‘less flavor’, a more industrial aspect, and short lifespan.
Now the trend is premiumization, the rustic aspect of bread, the taste, freshness at the time of purchase and a crispy crust and fresh crumb.
He said people are looking for more artisan products, a better taste, a thin crispy crust which is why it designed a new divider.
“Existing technologies today are volumetric divider and sheeting make up line,” he said.
“The benefits of a volumetric divider are the precise weight and shape of a piece of dough are plus or minus <1%. Dividing equals laminating, coiling, molding. Problems however include short shelf life, mechanism friction: wear and oil and no fermented or hydrated dough.
“The benefits of sheeting make up are hydrated and fermented dough and shape and size but disadvantages are: precision, size, you use a lot of flour, (the more flour you use the crust is very thick) you lose the gourmandize taste. It’s like a form of rolling the dough.
“Mecatherm has combined the benefits of both. Its gone up from 100g to 900g product range weight, 4,000 baguettes an hour, and the divider can produce short, twisted, baguettes and loaves, and soft products for diversity.
“We have returned to a ‘Savoir faire’ focus, giving food the French touch. The main advantages of the machine include dough quality, no stretch (stress) and guaranteed weight and shape regularity.”