Bakery uses Internet of Things technology to save money and boost quality

A Dublin-based baking business has shaved 14% off its electricity bill within months after investing in internet of things (IoT) technology.

The Bretzel Bakery, one of the oldest artisan bakeries in the city, installed the operational intelligence portal from Irish firm Cognition as part of a move to help cut its utility expenses and comply stringent food sustainability targets set out in food and drink organisation Bord Bía’s Origin Green.

The technology works by capturing automatic live data from 45 IoT sensors across the company, which is then compiled into an online report that can be accessed by the bakery.

As well as analysing real-time production information, the analytics platform can detect and alert when production falls out of tolerance with pre-determined standards – catching fridge doors that have been left open, for example, or identifying surges in gas use that might mean a burner or piece of equipment is not operating effectively.

As many as 30,000 data points are captured every week to help the bakery understand where improvements can be made, including identifying the best time and most economical way to use gas and electric ovens, which has resulted in the bakery achieving savings of 14% on its electricity bill “just by turning the ovens on at different times”, Bretzel’s managing director William Despard told British Baker.

“We can log on to the energy dashboard, pick a device and see, over the last 24 hours or the last week, how much it has cost us in real terms to run that device and then look at a particular day on an hourly basis and see the energy usage of that device in a graphical format.”

Other benefits, Despard said, included the monitoring of final dough temperatures, which can help businesses target “drifting quality”.

“If we have the most flavoursome and best sourdough bread and we get complimented by a good critic, we can look at the variables that contributed to that and do our best to replicate those in the future,” he continued.

“Or, if we have flat baguettes without a perfect honeycomb structure, we can look at the dough temperatures, the atmospheric conditions and, in theory, should be able to know exactly how long they were in the oven for.”

Thomas McGrath, CEO of Cognition, added: “Food producers are so focused on getting the product out of the door they can struggle to find the inefficiencies in production. Fortunately, operational intelligence finds easy wins in energy and water optimisation before targeting the types of production quality improvements that The Bretzel Bakery has embraced. With our operational intelligence platform, we’re unashamed in helping The Bretzel Bakery make more dough.”

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