A few months ago we reported on the Breadbot from Walla Walla, Washington based Wilkinson Baking Co. The autonomous breadmaking robot looked promising but was still in the prototype phase. The robot, now being called the Mini Bakery, is finally making its big league debut.
The Stop & Shop store in Milford, Massachusetts will be the first supermarket on the East Coast to feature the Mini Bakery. Customers will be able to get various types of bread including white, wheat, whole wheat, nine-grain, sourdough, and honey oat.
The Mini Bakery goes from mixing the raw ingredients to kneading the dough to baking the bread. The whole process is completely automated and takes only 90 minutes. Once finished a robotic arm will load the fresh bread into a cooling compartment. Customers then use a touch screen to retrieve the product.
Mini Bakery Can Supply 10 Loaves Per Hour
The Mini Bakery can supply up to 10 loafs every hour and customers are able to view the entire process of the glass cased robot. To make sure bread is hot and fresh all day, the Mini Bakery spreads production evenly once the desired number of loaves and times to start and stop baking are set.
The Mini Bakery isn’t completely autonomous as bakery staff still needs to pour the bread mix into the hopper. Employees will receive an alert when the hopper is ready to be filled with more mix or bread needs to be emptied from the cooling cabinet. Store employees can monitor the robot via a touch screen on the unit. The Mini Bakery can operate around the clock and produce a maximum of 235 loaves every 24 hours. Only 30 minutes a day is required for cleaning.
Breadmaking Robot Can Be Scheduled Up to 3 Months in Advance
For stores wanting to get a jump on things, they can schedule the Mini Bakery to start baking up to three hours before the store opens. This allows for a head start — if necessary — to meet daily production demands. Start and stop baking times and the desired number of loaves can also be scheduled 3 months in advance. This could be especially helpful during busy holiday seasons.
According to the store, each loaf of bread costs $3.99 and because the bread is made fresh every day, there’s no need for the artificial preservatives commonly found in on-shelf bread. If all goes well with the pilot program, Stop & Shop plans to add the breadmaking robot to more stores in the region.
“Making the bread locally, right in the store with The Mini Bakery, has a very positive environmental effect,” according to Randall Wilkinson, CEO of Wilkinson Baking Co. “The fleets of delivery trucks and the fuel they use are reduced since only dry ingredients need to be shipped. And because The Mini Bakery keeps track of its production, it’s able to predict how much bread it should bake in order to meet demand. Everything it bakes sells within hours. Nothing goes to waste.”