Better than sliced bread: Eco-friendly BreadBot poised to disrupt commercial breadmaking scene

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The Wilkinson Baking Company is debuting the BreadBot, the first fully automated breadmaking machine of its kind. Photo: The Wilkinson Baking Company.
The Wilkinson Baking Company is debuting the BreadBot, the first fully automated breadmaking machine of its kind. Photo: The Wilkinson Baking Company.

Related tags Technology Consumer Electronics Show breadmaking Patent

The Wilkinson Baking Company has debuted the first, fully automated breadmaking machine at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) being held in Las Vegas, US.

The patented BreadBot is a fully integrated machine that measures, mixes, forms, proofs, bakes and cools 10 preservative-free loaves in just 90 minutes.

The result of 20 years of R&D and 30 months of in-store market-testing experience, the bot is also capable of making most varieties of bread that require dry ingredients – from whole wheat to nine grain and honey oats.

“Bread is a staple of American life. But, in most supermarkets today, it has lost its emotional connection with the shopper,”​ said Randall Wilkinson, CEO of The Wilkinson Baking Company.

“The BreadBot attracts consumers back to the store because it delivers fresh, delicious bread that is produced with theatre and engagement.”

The theatre of breadmaking

The multi-step process begins when the baker pours a dry dough mix into a funnel-shaped mechanism called a hopper, which the machine measures and mixes with water and yeast using a variety of sensors. 

The machine kneads the dough for six minutes before forming into oval loaves and placing into individual baking pans to proof. These are then baked in a high-humidity chamber.

Once baked, a robotic arm lifts the loaves out of the pans and into a cooling chamber, where consumers can view and purchase them via a touchscreen.

The whole process takes about 90 minutes and a new loaf cycle restarts about every six minutes.

Reduces environmental impact

“We’re so excited to bring CES back to basics with The BreadBot this year and to demonstrate how we have increased a retailers’ bread sales by more than 30% while also decreasing the environmental impact,” ​added Wilkinson.

By the numbers

  • Produces 10 loaves per hour
  • Time to first completed loaf is 90 minutes
  • New loaves produced every 6 minutes
  • Operates up to a 24 hour duty cycle
  • Yields a maximum of 235 loaves per day
  • Requires about 30 minutes for daily cleaning

Costs spent on getting product from factory oven to store shelf are eliminated, as well as related out-of-date product waste, while the environment benefits though the elimination of a $75m+ brick and mortar facility.

Bakers can schedule the 22 square-foot machine to start baking hours before opening times, while they will almost certainly benefit from increased consumer interest.

“This is the first time that you’ve been able to take the master baker and make everything happen automatically, so that it comes out with a good quality loaf on a continuing basis,”​ said Wilkinson.

Although there is no official pricing yet, company reps estimate the bot will retail around $100,000 over a five-year lease.

BreadBot is just a prototype for now, but the Wilkinson Baking Company is in the process of manufacturing a final version that is expected to land in major US grocery stores later this year.

The company is also collaborating with a firm in Berlin to develop a bot to produce sourdough bread.

Washington-based The Wilkinson Baking Company – part of the Bonin Ventures growth accelerator – is managed by the Wilkinson family, which has a 35-year history of multiple, successful startup companies.

It owns the international patent and IP rights to a wide range of claims related to The BreadBot.

CES is being held in Las Vegas, US, from January 8-9, 2019.

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