American-style cake and cookie manufacturer from Europe’s Nordic region, Millennium Bakery (Millba), has increased its production capacity after adopting innovative Serpentine continuous baking technology from industrial bakery equipment supplier AUTO-BAKE.

Located in the town of Skien in southern Norway, Millba has been producing a range of premium muffins, cookies and donuts since 1999. As the company expanded its range of products to meet increasing demand, with five sizes of muffins and three sizes of cookies, all in multiple flavours now on offer, it became apparent that a flexible baking solution was of paramount importance.

A fully integrated continuous baking system, featuring Auto-Bake’s Serpentine technology, offered the best solution, says the firm, allowing the baker to take the "next step" in its production capabilities.

"We now have an annual production capacity of 100 million ’cakes’, thanks to the Auto-Bake system," says Millba managing director Bernt Ove Søvik. "The flexibility offered by the Serpentine baking system allows us to meet the escalating market demand for product diversity and consistency."

Comprising a Serpentine oven, ambient cooler and refrigeration system, along with infeed and outfeed apparatus, the new muffin and cookie line provided Millba with a seamless baking system that delivers the firm’s full range of products.

"Auto-Bake worked very closely with Millba to tailor a baking solution, enabling us to maintain the product quality and consistency that our customers throughout Europe have become accustomed to," says Søvik. "We were able to perform product tests in one of its test bakeries in Chicago, USA. This ’try before you buy’ service gave us added confidence in the technology."

According to Auto-Bake UK/Europe sales manager Robert Done, an important feature of all its Serpentine ovens is the vertical ’S-shaped’ configuration transport system, which allows the product to be conveyed horizontally through numerous precision-controlled thermal zones. This results in an oven that occupies approximately one-tenth of the footprint of legacy tunnel oven technology. The compact Serpentine transport path has also been incorporated into the ambient cooler and refrigeration system.

Done emphasises that Serpentine ovens are more controllable than conventional tunnel ovens. "The Serpentine oven allows precise control of baking profiles, which can vary slightly for different products," he says. "This ensures greater repeatability, plus seamless product consistency." Further flexibility can be gained by simply changing trays, in-feed and de-panning tools.

Auto-Bake’s clipless tray system allows simple drop-in/lift-out tray changeover. Done explains: "Eight different sized products are baked on four different tray types at Millba. The clipless tray system means the different product recipes can be selected with minimal interruption to the production schedule."

Taking just six months from conception to installation, Millba’s new baking system was commissioned in only two weeks. It underwent extensive testing and trial bakes at Auto-Bake in Sydney, Australia, before being shipped to Norway, and has been operating without incident. "The ability to troubleshoot and test before shipping dramatically reduced the time spent commissioning on-site," says Done.