Grab a gizmo

09 April, 2010
Whether it's bread slicers or bag tags, bakers are after that simple, but brilliant purchase that can make their lives easier, cut costs or make better products. Andrew Williams trawled the stands at BIE for the latest toys
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Hygienic gloves (A)

Until such time as humanoids are genetically modified to have enough limbs to handle baked products and money, without the latter contaminating the former, we have Clean Hands by Easy Glove. Shop staff slip the glove on, serve the customer, slip the glove off and take the money. Problem solved. This simple breakthrough attracted a stream of visitors at BIE not least, an approach from the producers of Dragon's Den intrigued by the patented system, which uses a magnetic band to keep the glove open for slipping on and off easily, and to fix it to the counter.

"It saves a fortune in the cost of changing gloves and it's more hygienic," explains MD Paul Clark, whose other business is running Cornish pasty retailer Phat Pasty Co. "Before, we were using a whole box of latex gloves every day (at Phat Pasty), which would cost £4.50 a day. Now we use around three gloves a day, costing 30p."

Measured move (B)

Drawing the eye of gadget geeks was the pirouetting laser-targeted loaf at the heart of The Volscan Profiler a nifty gizmo that measures bread volume. This is important when recipe and formulation changes affect a product.

The traditional way of measuring bread volume used rapeseeds, which were weighed and then put in a box with a loaf to measure displacement. "It was a messy, slow and inaccurate way of measuring bread volume," says Harry Schimanski of Stable Micro Systems. "What we have here is a laser that moves down the bread, measuring the circumference of the bread as it rotates and, from that, we can calculcate the volume." It was designed and manufactured in the UK, and costs £10,000, or £11,000 for the larger model.

Tamper-evident system (C)

As product safety becomes ever more critical, UK bakers can take heart that they don't face the situation seen in Nigeria, where bread delivery drivers regularly slip a couple of slices out of each loaf to sell themselves. Or they used to, before Innoseal came up with a tamper-proof solution that has now been launched here.

"There's a lot more pressure on food suppliers in the UK to ensure consumers get what was put in the bag. Because of its tamper-evident system, Innoseal offers a clear benefit," says Innoseal UK director Stephen Gillies.

Paper goes across the seal, so you know when it's been tampered with. Once opened, it also reseals for the customer at home. They are already used in supermarkets in the US, Canada, France and Germany. A tube has 7,000 seals, which works out at around 5-7 seals per penny.

Ultrasonic cuts (D)

Widely used in industries like packaging, ultrasonic blades used to slice products cleanly are relatively new to bakery, but are on the rise. "Because the blade is vibrating at 20,000 times a second, nothing sticks to it," says Paul White, sales manager at Branson Ultrasonics, which sells the components to build bespoke machinery or upgrade existing machinery. You can use them for cutting sandwiches or portioning cream slices with fondant. "Marks & Spencer use it, because they want to improve the quality of the cut. You can see the cut surface of the product through the packaging, so they want it to be aesthetically pleasing. If you cut a gateau with a blade, you start to drag and smear it. When you're making tens of thousands of cuts, that's all waste."

Bizerba's flexible slicer (E)

Some 80 years after the invention of sliced bread, slicers have finally caught up with the 21st century. With Beam Baking Systems' high-tech Bizerba Variable Thickness Bread Slicer, you can slice a number of different thicknesses in the same loaf. It clamps the bread and a cutting wheel carves it up.

"You can slice any thickness, from 3-30mm, so if you're making sandwiches to order you can cut off two slices rather than slice the whole thing thin slices for the little old lady or doorsteps for the young lad. One person who has seen it is keen on the added theatre it could bring to a shop. For wholesale bakers, it eliminates the need for a range of slicers," says Beam's Andrew Nightingale.

It cuts at speeds up to 80 slices a minute and costs around £6,000.





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