From bulk to bakery – Where the bakery gets the raw materials

Cas Markesteijn and Junior Hatt are jointly responsible for the technology at AB Mauri. A factory where bakery products are composed. At one time, the company started as a daughter of Gist Brocades in Delft. Nowadays recipes for products are mixed her every day, ranging from the Dutch ‘oliebollen’ to their famous ‘VollerKoren’ bread.

In two teams, from six a.m. till eleven thirty p.m., products are made on five production lines. Each week those lines process thousand tonnes of flour. "We receive our flour in bulk cars for storage in silos, as well as in bags. In the production the raw materials are dosed, mixed and filled." Junior Hatt explains that both powders and liquids are being processed and, on the website, we see that the products are also developed to improve the working conditions of bakers, for example by making flour less dusting. Furthermore, the bakers also get the recipes to process the various products in a way that makes optimal use of those characteristics.

So: VSE. What is their role in this production? Hatt: "We were looking for a new party for technical maintenance and - actually - also wanted to renew the control of our robot. We purchased the software and hardware from two different vendors. Over time the manufacturers stopped offering support, so our suppliers could not help us anymore. We decided not to wait until a problem occurred, but to look for a preventive partner who could help. Thus we came into contact with VSE."

Persistence wins
Cas Markesteijn recounts about the beginning of the collaboration, the conversion of the first control of the portal robot. “Translating the functional specifications was successful. We worked with two machines, where the only difference is the size of the bag. We started with the small machine. The new control system was prepared, and the plan was that replacing the controller would take place during a weekend. A VSE-employee devised a very clever paletising pattern, which can stack seven bags per minute. Only the conversion itself proved to be less smooth than we thought. We did not get the pattern working. Linking an existing installation to new technology can surely offer some surprises. After a long search we found that the problem was in an engine with a separate pulse counter, which is what we work with. This gives different results from a built-in pulse counter, as with the modern engines, and in the end that turned out to be the crux."

Half a word
Hatt and Markesteijn have appreciated the fact that VSE refused to resign. Markesteijn: "The approach of VSE is that they do not give up until they have found the cause. That ultimately gives you a very accurate picture of what is needed for the next conversion. At the second machine we were able to run the conversion according to plan without any problems at all, and this time it all did happen in one weekend. That attitude had the additional result that we now know each other well and that we know what we can expect from each other. VSE is ready for us and pick up what is needed. We have been working together for about two years now and they know our company inside out. People like Patrick Kok and Stefan Lekkerkerker only need half a word and we do not have to explain our wishes over and over."

Machine safety
Junior Hatt talks about the next projects that are now going to be picked up. "The first subject we have been working on for some time now, is machine safety. We were looking for a practical interpretation and VSE also thinks along with us about that. As a consultant in this field we called on the company D&F and VSE takes care of the execution. It is important that the operators are involved, for they are the ones who have to work with it. We notice that the people of VSE know the ins and outs of what’s on the market and that they can suggest very practical solutions. For example, they came up with a divisible swivel, which they use more often. You do not have to interrupt production for maintenance and it reduces downtime. Those kinds of clever tricks really help us onward.”

Another topic the gentlemen are dealing with is OEE, Overall Equipment Effectiveness. "We want the effectiveness of each line to be visible separately, directly to that line and real-time. A nice side effect of this is that it makes the teams competitive," Hatt says. “We know what the lines can do, and now want that to be instantly visible with counters and screens, using hardware and software. So now we have the data from the various lines and shifts at our disposal and we can continue to work on the most effective way of producing." Cas Markesteijn: "From bulk to bakery, there is something to be gained on every aspect. Because every little helps, and we can immediately spot it if abnormalities are occurring and engage preventively at a very early stage."

About working with VSE they decide: "It is a big advantage that they work for a great variety of companies. They have a lot of knowledge and experience in different industries, and they share that with us, so VSE is a very good nice partner for us.”

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