British Bakels recognised for adoption of NIR spectroscopy with IChemE award

British Bakels recognised for adoption of NIR spectroscopy with IChemE award

From left: Christine Westphal (Bakels); Viv Ryan (Bakels); Mohammed Mohammed (Bakels); Jarka Glassey (Newcastle University); Gary Montague (Teeside University)

British Bakels, the Bicester-based bakery ingredients manufacturer, has been awarded the Process Automation and Digitisation Award at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards, which was held at the Hilton Metropole, Birmingham, on 30th November 2023.

The award recognises British Bakels’ groundbreaking journey in adopting and implementing near infrared (NIR) inline process control technology at its manufacturing site. The process ensures it delivers the best possible products, backed by the highest quality assurance standards, to customers in UK supermarket and industrial bakeries and wholesale and craft bakeries.

British Bakels first installed near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy equipment in 2012 in its Bicester quality control lab, using NIR light to monitor raw material and finished product quality and specification conformance, then went on to use the tech to monitor these factors inline in their ‘dry’ (powder) plant.

The IChemE Global Awards honours this journey and the latest stage, British Bakels’ use of NIR spectroscopy during ‘wet’ production to track what’s happening to their ingredients while they are being made.

Michael Schofield, Bakels Group marketing manager, explains: “We are delighted to win the Process Automation and Digitisation Award at this year’s IChemE Global Awards. The award recognises not only Bakels’ most recent implementation of NIR inline process technology in wet manufacturing, but also the journey our team has been on to get here.

“Near infrared spectroscopy is crucial in guaranteeing the quality of our products such as our industry-leading caramels and paste concentrates, during production, as it enables us to stop heating and start the cooling process. Adopting this technology, which isn’t widely used elsewhere in the food industry, in our ‘wet’ plant helps us not only to ensure our product quality by reducing substandard and waste products but also increases our process and staff efficiency, optimises our manufacturing capacity, and minimises unnecessary use of energy. Everyone wins – us, our customers, and the planet.”

Since British Bakels adopted the process, the wider Bakels group has confirmed its plans to roll the technology out to its sister companies around the world.

Schofield adds: “Our knowledge and implementation experience is now being transferred around the world including in Bakels Australia, which is great recognition for all the hard work over the years.

For the team here in Bicester, the additional accolade of winning the Process Automation and Digitisation category at the IChemE Global Awards is the icing on the cake.”

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