AIB International, located in America's heartland is home to eight unique labs that are the heartbeat of the company since the facility was built in 1978.
Cookies and crackers are very different from many other dough and sweet goods products, so the cookie and cracker lab provides a space AIB can dedicate to the processing and equipment unique to these products.
The cracker production line is quite a unique process. First, the cracker dough goes through a feeder at the beginning and is then sheeted out to a long thick sheet of dough. Throughout the line, the dough is progressively sheeted thinner. At the end, there are dockers and a cutting roll, that cut the crackers' shape. They then travel by belt to the oven and get a shower of salt on their way. Finally, they are transferred onto the oven band, where they take a 7 minute ride through the tunnel oven. Sometimes they are run through a spray oil machine at the end.
"The equipment that we use in the lab offers the opportunity to look at a pilot scale production for crackers and many types of cookies." Alison Bjerke-Harvey, Baking Professional at AIB said. "This allows training opportunities, and great flexibility for working on R&D projects for various ingredients and product development. The equipment allows us to look at differences in processes from mixing to forming, and baking to finishing and sandwiching."
Cookies and crackers are an exciting and interesting bakery product category because their systems are so unique. Because of this, understanding the right control points for the process and equipment, as well as how ingredients impact finished product quality is essential to consistent product and successful production.