4,000 loaves of bread per hour. This is the sky-high number baked every day at Bakery Bouman in Geldermalsen, Netherlands. The bakery is part of the Amarant Bakkersholding, and apart from daily fresh bread, the bakery supplies specialties, such as pastries, pre-baked products and regional delicacies. Since dozens of major supermarkets have come to rely on the fresh supply, Bakery Bouman can’t afford to have anything but the most efficient and dependable production line. That is where Habasit comes in. The company was selected to replace the conveyor belt in the spiral cooling tower which transports tens of thousands of loaves each day.

Commercial Manager Raymond Timmer was pleased by how Habasit­ approached the job, managing to meet any and every challenge that arose: “People get to know each other particularly well in difficult situations. Habasit responded in a professional way and always provided a perfect solution.”

Being cool is crucial

The cooling process is crucial for the production of every bakery item. After it had been established that the conveyor belt in the tower was wearing down, Bouman decided to take preventative measures in order to replace it. Four suppliers were invited to submit a quotation for the job, one of whom had been the supplier of the original installation. Another supplier was Habasit. It was a new company to Bouman, although some of its technicians were familiar with the name and the high quality of their belts.

Bouman decided to take the chance with Habasit. Raymond Timmer: “It was rather exciting because apart from the initial installation, we didn’t have any experience with a supplier delivering a spiral belt. Habasit’s approach was surprising and refreshing. They didn’t just send a quote right away, but first came to take a look at the conveyor in order to be able to make a well-founded offer. It became immediately clear that the Habasit team had a lot of knowledge and expertise. They also presented a solid and detailed approach, both technically and financially. They demonstrated their competence by offering us several tips of helpful advice. We were persuaded by the complete and convincing service which Habasit could provide every step of the way.”

A solution without delay

After both parties had reached an agreement about the type of belt and the corresponding arrangements, Habasit presented a detailed project plan. “We daily produce fresh bread for one of the largest supermarkets in the Netherlands,” explains Timmer. “We do this seven days a week at an average speed of 4,000 loaves of bread per hour. This means that the less time the cooling tower is out of service, the better. The most convenient time for repairs is the weekend, to stop working on Friday afternoon and to be able to start up again on Sunday. Habasit guaranteed that they could make this happen.”

After a thorough inspection was done by a spiral engineer, production was stopped on Friday at noon. A Habasit team immediately set to work. “This all went very smoothly,” says Timmer. “on Friday evening at 11 p.m., I was relieved to receive the message: ‘We are on schedule’. By Sunday everything was up and running again without any trouble.” A few hours later, a problem occurred which made the bread run out of line. “It was not an insurmountable issue, but we had to find a solution,” explains Timmer. “Habasit did not hesitate for a moment and immediately started to search for the cause of the problem. Before long, it was fixed.”

Trouble turned to trust

Timmer was consistently pleased by Habasit’s quick response. “The discussion about the problem was very open and we kept in touch until we found a solution. It was all about maintaining trust in each other and the feeling that everything would be alright.” Account Manager Jerremy Dalman of Habasit: “By making use of slow-motion video images, we could see exactly what was causing the problem. This was a new technique to us, but Marco Hollander, our Technical Manager, introduced us to not just one, but to several solutions.” This gave Bouman a lot of confidence. After several test sessions, Habasit had solved the problem. “Now everything is working perfectly,” says Timmer. “Although we all felt quite anxious for a moment, we did not lose confidence in each other. We always had the feeling that things would turn out well, and we were right. Of course no one likes to be stressed, but it was a good way to get to know each other.”

The advantages of the right partner

Not only is the baking and the cooling of the breads running smoothly again, but the new belt also has some additional advantages. For instance, recent calculations show that the life span of the current belt is much longer than the previous one. The special wear strips reduce the friction between the belt and the supporting parts. This also reduces the forces exerted on the tower. Consequently, the motor tensioning of the belt requires less power and this reduces the use of energy.

From start to finish, from consultation to installation, to repair, Habasit has proven to be a trusted partner, not only for Bakery Bouman, but for the thousands of people looking to buy a fresh loaf of bread every day. (JB)

Susan DijkhuizenMarketing

A tower of 4,000 loaves

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