Issue Spring 15
AMF Canada prides itself on being a global leader in manufacturing high-speed, automated bakery equipment for commercial bakeries that mainly produce bread and buns. After three years of steady growth in this category, the company plans to expand by customizing its equipment for other specialties within the market. “Our customers are looking to us to provide more than bread and bun solutions,” Engineering Product Manager Bobby Martin says.
AMF Canada is a manufacturing branch of AMF Bakery Systems that is headquartered in Richmond, Va., and provides complete automated bakery solutions, including dough mixing, dividing, make-up, proofing, baking, cooling, packaging, basket/case loading and product distribution. AMF Canada targets its products to commercial bakeries with high-throughput production lines, Martin says. “Our customers know they are going to receive quality equipment from us that is engineered to suit their needs,” he adds. “Our customers have specific requests and we are experts in doing customization on our standard equipment.”
AMF Canada believes that listening to its customers and customizing its equipment have helped it become a global leader in manufacturing mixers worldwide. “We have best-in-class horizontal mixers and can adapt our mixers to our customers’ ingredients,” Martin says. “We do a lot of integration of our equipment and are experts in providing bakery layout solutions. We can provide assistance for bakeries from start to finish.”
At the AMF Canada facility, the engineering department is the first to take ownership of an order. It ensures the equipment will deliver on the specifications required by the customer and then a bill of materials is sent to production and manufacturing begins. One of the main highlights at AMF Canada is its welding department where metal is cut to make the bowls for its mixers. “We have special metal forming equipment and we own a lot of our equipment, which helps reduce the cost of manufacturing,” Martin adds.
Because most of its products are customized, AMF Canada does not keep a large inventory on-hand and relies on its suppliers to deliver components as needed. “We have low inventory because we are experts in customization,” Martin says. “If we have a rush order, our suppliers are used to us and will supply us faster so we can make our product faster than usual.”
To stay in good standing with its suppliers and vice versa, AMF Canada believes in being fair and not exaggerating requests. “We can be hard negotiating with them, but that’s all part of the partnership,” Martin says. “In the end, they know they can trust us and we can trust them. If the trust is lost, it’s time to look into another supplier.”
AMF Canada’s employees are considered experts at engineering and manufacturing automated bakery equipment, Martin says. Its employees are cross-trained in every part of the process because the same product is rarely manufactured twice. “Everyone here is dedicated to quality and manufacturing,” he adds. “Because of that, we can be proud of the equipment we deliver to the market. Our engineering department is dedicated and supportive to the manufacturing and assembly activities working hands-on in a team. Any improvement is captured and brought to the sketch board.”
Its electrical department is a vital asset to AMF Canada because it allows the company to provide its own electrical panel assembly instead of outsourcing. “This allows us to have a greater knowledge and be more efficient and better every time we make our equipment so we can improve from one machine to the next,” Martin says.
AMF Canada is allotting more resources this year to reach out to other areas within the bakery market. The company downsized its mixers so they can be used in smaller businesses and built spiral coolers due to increase in demand.
“We are experts in dough mixing, so we can build mixers for other dough products too,” Martin says. “We aren’t in that market because we didn’t reach out to it, but this year we will. Our technology is good for many other uses in the market. Same for our spiral application where our bread or bun cooler can be used for other baked products applications, such as sweet goods.”
AMF Canada plans to focus on how it can save energy inside its plants and with its products. “We are going to make our plant greener by taking whatever actions we can to reduce the cost of energy,” Martin says. “We are constantly looking to produce equipment that uses less energy. For instance, even though our basket washer is ahead of competition as far as low energy consumption, we have identified opportunities where improvement can be done. Our continuous improvement efforts are driving us to be better every day.”