KANSAS CITY, MO — Repair or replace? When it comes to equipment, that’s the burning question every baker has to eventually ask. But how do you know when it’s time to invest in a new machine or keep breathing life into the reliable standby?

Bakery equipment is designed to last decades, so the question isn’t one bakers take lightly. Fortunately, there are resources to guide the decision. And in this new era of remote technology, it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on their investment.

For example, AMF Bakery Systems offers AMF Connect, a tool that provides the opportunity for remote access and gives technicians the real-time access to interact with the equipment.


With Industry 4.0, AMF’s PLC panel connects to a global network for easy data acquisition, which allows a bakery to identify long- or short-term trends in equipment performance.

“If you have a problem at mixing, and two hours later, an issue shows up on the slicer, you can then correlate events in production,” Bobby Martin, AMF product systems leader for baking systems, said in a virtual booth presentation during the American Society of Baking’s virtual BakingTECH conference. “That’s not always easy to accomplish manually because it takes a lot of communication among workers who can be hundreds of feet apart on the line. AMF Connect provides access to important information.”

In addition to offering new equipment and the tools that come with maintaining it, AMF also provides service work, including repairs and modernization for older equipment that still has usable life left in it.

“Maybe a piece of equipment isn’t up to safety codes or there’s some new technology controls or drive mechanisms that are needed,” said Dennis Kauffman, product group leader, AMF BakeTech. “Our repair and modernization group can help rebuild, remanufacture or update equipment so it can be more productive, more energy-efficient and reduce downtime.”

“Our repair and modernization group can help rebuild, remanufacture or update equipment so it can be more productive, more energy-efficient and reduce downtime,” said Dennis Kauffman, product group leader, AMF BakeTech.


AMF can rebuild equipment with replacement parts or upgrade it with new controls. It can also help a baker relocate and rebuild the equipment to start it up in a different area of the bakery. That said, operations are often jam-packed — for either space or time — so having the ability to upgrade or simply extend the equipment life can keep things moving with the least amount of downtime.

“Sometimes there just is no other place to put a brand-new piece of equipment, and there isn’t enough time to disassemble, remove and install a new one or rebuild it,” Kauffman said. “Rebuilds are often done in weekend work; you schedule one weekend of downtime to do a certain amount, and then you come back in another few weeks and finish the project. Often, it’s just a matter of finding space in the bakery.”

Before any of that takes place, AMF begins the process with one critical step: inspection. The team conducts a thorough inspection and provides a report on what it would cost to rebuild, upgrade or add on to the equipment, and that helps the bakery make an informed decision on whether to repair or replace. It then comes down to evaluating the investment hard cost and the ability to give up the downtime for either a rebuild or replacement.


“We can put that information in front of the people who need to make decisions about equipment maintenance, at the time they need to make it; that’s the AMF Connect philosophy,” Martin said. After a certain amount of run time, a notification is sent that indicates equipment needs attention. That keeps the baker from letting preventive maintenance go by the wayside. That’s a key to the longevity of reliable equipment.

“As far as a baker making a decision on when to replace equipment — that’s a hard decision to make — a baker must look at the time and money that they spend on equipment, and that will allow them to realize when it’s worth the investment,” Martin said. “And we are there to help them with either decision.”

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