ROBESONIA, PA — Reading Bakery Systems (RBS), a leading global manufacturer of snack production systems, has partnered with the Center for Advanced Research in Drying (CARD) to support academic research and drying technology development.

Teaming up with CARD, RBS designed and built a custom electric convection dryer for Worcester Polytechnic’s research laboratory. With funding provided by Massachusetts Clean Energy and the US Department of Energy, this will enable research projects to test new drying techniques at an industrial scale.

CARD was established as an academic research venture at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Illinois and leads the development of energy-efficient alternatives and innovation of US drying technologies. The group partners with associations, universities, government officials and more to advance the development of this technology and accelerate the timeline for innovations that can be commercialized by industry partners.

CARD currently has several baking and snack food industry partners such as Mondelez, Hershey, Pepperidge Farm and PepsiCo.


“At PepsiCo, we recognize that we have an opportunity to help build a more sustainable food system and to do our part to help curb climate change,” said a representative for PepsiCo in a written statement. “As a part of our PepsiCo Positive agenda, we aim to do so by building resiliency in our operations and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our value chain.”

PepsiCo addresses sustainability and digitalization as a member company of CARD. This includes advanced process controls, artificial intelligence and machine learning in its manufacturing operations, which allows the company to support its team of operators, quality technicians and maintenance staff.

“With RBS as a global leader of flexible, efficient and turnkey snack production systems, PepsiCo and other snack food manufacturers can take advantage of the incredible technical advances enabled by the CARD NSF industry-university consortium,” the PepsiCo statement said.


Andrew Rosenthal, general manager of Reading Thermal, said that the brand is proud to be a pioneer in energy efficiency for the sector.

“From a corporate responsibility perspective, we see the future moving more and more toward electric-powered drying as renewables scale up,” he said. “We want RBS and Reading Thermal to be known as companies that are comfortable co-developing the cutting edge and bringing it to reality.”

Reading Thermal, an RBS brand, will also work with CARD to improve understanding of oven environmental measurements and data analysis using its Scorpion 2 Profiling System.

Joe Zaleski, RBS president, shared Rosenthal’s sentiments and looks to the future of oven and drying technology.

“We’re excited to partner with CARD and actively support their research advancement,” Zaleski said. “The next 30 years will be transformative to oven and dryer designs. RBS is well-known for innovation, and we’ve already taken the lead on energy efficiency and carbon reduction through automation capabilities and sustainability initiatives. Rosenthal and our engineering team have jumped right in and are working on new technologies to be developed with CARD.”


Rosenthal indicated that the scale of this dryer will provide university researchers knowledge of how drying techniques will perform in a commercial operation.

“The realities of working in and around the Smart Dryer will quickly show researchers what it is like to work with true industry machinery as seen in commercial baking plants,” he said.