For most bakers the thought of shelling out for a new oven is not a prospect that fills them with joy. But with the progression of oven technology in recent years, the long-term cost benefits could well make up for the initial outlay.

Martin Dyson, sales director, Tom Chandley, says upgrading to a new deck oven can provide bakeries with a number of advantages, as the newer models have features such as colour touchscreen controls, which make the ovens easier to operate, steam, deck timers and 24-hour time clock and auto switch-off, which can reduce your energy consumption even further. "In our experience, bakers can often be hesitant to replace old ovens if they are still operational and provide a good-quality bake, because of the costs involved," says Dyson. "However, the technology of the deck ovens on the market today is fantastic and the benefits, in terms of bake quality and cost and energy savings, can be phenomenal."

The Food Machinery Com-pany (FMC) has been supplying machinery in the UK and Ireland for the past 30 years, offering both electric and propane gas deck ovens which it imports from China. For bakers looking to invest in a new oven, but still keen to keep costs down, the firm believes that looking to what Asia can offer is the answer.

MD Mike Wilkinson, says there has previously been uncertainty about importing equipment from countries like China, but claims there is nothing wrong with the equipment if it comes from the right supplier. He explains that a common problem in the past has been that a trading company, with no engineering knowledge, will simply look at the bottom line and bring a machine across to the UK without having any real knowledge about it. Commonly, machines with the wrong voltage would be imported, he says.

FMC, an established engineering company, visits the factory where the equipment is made, discusses any particular requirements for the UK market, with voltage being a particularly important one, he explains. Its engineers will then ensure any necessary changes are made so the ovens are suitable for the UK market.

Technologically speaking, Wilkinson says, they are no better or worse than the deck ovens supplied by major European manufacturers, but says in terms of cost you could purchase a new deck oven from China for less than some second-hand ovens from Europe.

At the top of FCM’s deck oven range are its NFD Models, which its says are ideal for larger bakeries; it also supplies NFR models, which are the equivalent gas-heated models. The YX models it offers are lighter-duty, designed with smaller bakeries in mind.

Wilkinson says as the current regulations for the use of gas ovens are so stringent, for smaller bakeries especially, it may be more cost-effective, in the short-term at least, to go for an electric deck oven. "If somebody wants to put a gas oven in, they will need extraction, additional sensors, fans and so on. All those costs can often be a lot more than the oven itself," he says. With an electric oven it isn’t necessary, so the initial cost will be a lot less.

What else is on the market?

Benier UK, part of the Kaak Group, offers several different deck ovens to suit businesses of all sizes. The Classic deck oven, from Sveba-Dahlen, offers bakers flexibility, says the firm. It has been designed in a modular system with six different oven sizes and a range of accessories, including an under-built prover and castors, which enable the oven to be built to meet the specific needs of the baker. David Marsh, MD of Benier UK, says this particular oven is ideal for bakers who want to bake in a traditional way, but with the latest in modern technology.

Benier’s sister company Daub offers a three-strong range of deck ovens using thermal oil, which the firm claims can save bakers up to 30% on their energy costs. The Thermo-Roll is a multi-deck oven that takes racks, and is suited to the production of par-baked, Mediterranean rye or tin bread. The Backmeister is a multi-deck oven that can be fixed or draw plate, suitable for craft bakeries, while the Hanseat range is a multi-deck tunnel oven system that can be used for either batch or continuous baking.

Suitable for smaller operations, Baker’s Pride Cyclone electric convection ovens are now available from Jestic. The GDCO-E1 single model and GDCO-E2 double model are designed to handle everything from gentle baking to high volume roasting. The full-size, forced-air single or double deck oven has an energy efficient 10.5 kW forced air heat system per deck and a two-speed fan with cool-down mode.

Both models feature dual stainless steel doors made with double-pane thermal glass. Five heavy-duty racks are supplied as standard with each oven.

Available through Brook Food Proces-sing Equipment (BFPM) are Polin’s electric deck ovens. These ovens offer advantages for bakeries that have premises with access issues, as they are modular in design, explains BFPM. They can also be added to over time if the bakery requires additional capacity and, importantly, bakers may be entitled to an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust if the new oven is being used to replace an existing less energy-efficient one.

"The Modular Polin Deck Oven is available in three- to 18-tray models, features versatile digital controls, gives a gentle bake from increased closely-spaced elements, ensuring even heat distribution and keeps its set temperature with thermal inertia controls, allowing no wasted energy from erratic thermostat activity," according to the firm.

Case study Hartley’s Confectioners

Hartley’s Confectioners, a 47-year-old Huddersfield-based family business, recently replaced its old Durelect deck ovens for two new energy-efficient Compacta 5-3-8 deck ovens from Tom Chandley. The business made the decision to replace the ovens, which, despite producing a consistent product at 50 years old, took a long time to heat up, thereby consuming a lot of elecricity and wasting energy.
Following the installation of the new oven, owner of the business and baker Jason Hartley says he noticed a huge decrease in energy usage and, in turn, the size of his utility bills. He explains that buying a new oven is something he had been putting off because of the cost. "Even though I expected to see a reduction in running costs, due to improved efficiencies such as better insulation and faster warm-up times, I have been astonished to find we are running the new ovens at 40% of the cost of running the old ones a huge 60% energy saving," he says. "These savings alone will have paid for the new ovens after only three years."
The new oven has also enabled the bakery to extend its product lines, thanks to the addition of steam.