Conveyors, Metal Detectors and Robotic solutions in baking


Bread bakeries have become highly automated in order to reduce costs, improve productivity, delivery, hygiene and quality.



More and more efficient materials handling and inspection solutions will be on the cards as bakers continue the never-ending search for ways to increase quality and maximise on performance output of baked goods.

Conveyors –

Conveyors remain at the heart of any good materials handling system and are employed to convey pans, lids, and baskets, raw and finished products throughout the baking process as part of an automated plant.

Overall benefits brought about by conveyors include increased production volumes at a reduced labour expense, making for much more efficient supply and distribution.

A closer look at the production process sees textile, felt or plastic coated belts used to transfer dough balls to a resting station where air-permeability is paramount to improve the gluten forming process in dough.

The dough balls are conveyed on to a secondary moulder before being elongated and fed into bread pans that generally arrive on flexible plastic link conveyors best catering to the layout of the plant bakery.

Space is optimised by using spiral conveyors equipped with plastic modular belts, offering the benefit of being lighter, easier to repair, and leaving less imprints on product. It also does not blacken the baked products when compared to wire mesh belts.

Plastic also better copes with the high humidity levels as it requires minimal maintenance, doesn’t rust and affords easy cleaning and maintenance. The bread pans are then transported from the proofer to the oven for baking on steel, wire mesh or chain conveyors before being transferred to temperature-resistant textile or metal cooling belts for de-panning and cooling down of baked goods. A plastic link conveyor would then transfer the pans back to the moulding process to be loaded all over again.

Manufacturers and Suppliers of Conveyors and Conveying equipment in South Africa include Chiorino, Conveyco, Belting Edge, Interroll, IPCO, Jadec and Progretto to name but a few.

Belting Edge – Belting Edge fabricate and supply conveyor belting, transmission belting, plastic modular belting, timing belting as well as belt fasteners and related tools. We also do on-site hot and cold splicing, pulley lagging and general splicing solutions. We are primarily based in the Western Cape region of South Africa but do enjoy a local client base right around the country as well as a growing international clientele’.

Progretto – Progetto International is based in Killarney Gardens, Cape Town and specialises in the supply of services and equipment to complete small to turnkey solutions in the materials handling, packaging and process industries. From here all projects, machine, automation and control designs are developed, researched and implemented.

Progetto can supply conveyor systems to convey, transfer, divert, rotate, push, accumulate and handle almost every product and application in the manufacturing process. This can be integrated into existing or our new packing machines that include robotics and pick and place tray packing systems.

You will gain production efficiency from our conveyor systems, process expertise and technical support
Our conveyor systems are designed to maximize efficiency, simplicity and flexibility at the most cost effective way
A full range of conveyors can be manufactured and supplied using various types of materials

This includes slat chain, modular belts, flat belts, rollers conveyors, pallet conveyors, chain driven units, etc.

IPCO is the world’s largest – and oldest – manufacturer of steel bake oven belts, supplying OEMs and end users around the world.

The company offers a range of steel grades to suit different needs and environments. IPCO 1100C grade is a carbon steel product that is used extensively by the bakery industry, while IPCO 1200SA is a stainless steel grade suitable for applications such as food conveying, cooling, freezing and drying. Both are available either in solid form or perforated.

In terms of supply, IPCO can provide as much – or as little – input as an oven builder needs. This can be as straightforward as the supply of the belt, though various levels of technical advice or consultancy to ensure that the belt delivers maximum return on investment, to the supply of key conveyor components that ensure smooth running, such as tracking systems and graphite stations.

Local service expertise
The company has a fully trained and equipped service team based in Johannesburg. As well as ensuring a quick response to any service needs, this means that work is carried out by qualified people with an understanding of customers’ needs and values.

As part of a global business, IPCO’s African service team can also call on the support of the company’s Special Engineering team if required, experts who can be sent anywhere in the world to provide specialist support.

Wide belts for enhanced productivity
IPCO can produce bake oven belts up to 3500 mm wide, making it possible to build wider ovens and increase productivity without having to invest in factory extensions. An oven with a 1500 mm wide belt offers almost twice the productivity of one with an 800 mm belt without any increase in the line length. An oven with a 3200 mm belt or larger can increase output by a factor of four.

Reducing carbon footprint through energy efficiency
Bake ovens can account for as much as 45% of a bakery’s overall energy consumption and as much of 25% of this is used heating the conveyor belt. The bake oven belt therefore has a significant impact on energy costs so ensuring maximum efficiency is important.

A solid steel bake oven belt weighs 30% less than a comparable mesh belt so costs up to 30% less to heat. And perforated belts weigh as much as 35% less again. As well as cutting heating costs, this weight advantage also means less energy is needed to drive the belt through the oven.

Steel belts are also significantly easier to clean being flat and smooth. This not only delivers savings in water and detergent but also means greater overall productivity, with time spent baking instead of cleaning.

Conveyco – Conveyco designs and manufactures various easy to clean and sanitary conveyor systems. From chain conveyors to complex modular belt conveyors. Most our food conveyors are made of stainless steel. These conveyors have to meet the highest sanitary quality.

We are fully independent manufacturer and are able to fabricate our conveyors to the exact needs of the client.

Our experienced staff stands ready to give you the help you need, from systems design and product specification to order placement. Our team takes pride in producing custom quality products.

Conveyco designs, manufacture and installs all equipment. We also do maintenance and servicing of equipment and have permanent teams in Cape Town, Durban & Johannesburg.

Chiorino – Your partner for SAFE & HYGIENIC food processing.

Chiorino HP® – Best performing belts for Bakery and Confectionery

Chiorino is a worldwide leader in the production of conveyor and process belts, transmission belts and rubber aprons. Chiorino conveyor and transmission belts provide excellent handling solutions for all industrial sectors.

Chiorino offer includes conveyor belts for sheeters, rotary cutters, rotary moulders, gauge rolls, oven infeed and outfeed, cooling conveyors etc.

Chiorino South Africa has been the sole supplier into Africa of Chiorino conveyor and transmission belting since 1983. It is headquartered in Gauteng and has branches in Cape Town and Durban, which serve the paper, printing, packaging and food processing industries.

Chiorino manufactures conveyor and process belts that fully comply with the latest European and international food regulations. These products are particularly recommended for HACCP systems.

Jadec – We have 28 years of experience in the design and manufacture of conveyors for materials handling, specializing in the food processing industry.

We serve customers within Southern, Central and Northern Africa, and other countries within the developing world.

Industries & Markets –
• Abattoirs, red meat, poultry and fish processing plants.
• Cereal, grain and nut processors.
• Bakeries, confectioneries and sweet factories.
• Fresh produce processing, pack-house and dairies.

Product Overview –
• Manufacture of Modular Belt Conveyors, Woven Belt Conveyors, Elevator Conveyors and Roller Conveyors,
• Custom design and fabrication of production equipment.
• Vacuum packaging production lines.

Metal Detectors and X-Ray Equipment

Metal detectors have upped their status in the production line up. Continuous instrument improvements resulted in metal detectors being promoted to essential process-control device status. They are no longer just end-of-line afterthoughts as they help protect expensive process machinery from metal fragment damage.

Baked loaves are transported along a conveyor and are inspected for metal contamination as they pass through the aperture of the metal detector. Metal contamination can be present in raw materials or can be introduced during manufacturing processes.

If metal is detected, pneumatic rejecting device operates and pushes the contaminated loaf directly into a reject bin. The suspect product can then be examined to determine the nature of the contamination and possible causes can be investigated.

From installing metal detectors to inspecting large quantities of free-flowing flour or grain, to check-weighers for determining correct fill levels or x-ray systems that perform final product checks, an inspection system can and should be tailored to individual company needs. And just as important as the equipment itself; is the comprehensive and on-going training of operators who use and monitor it.

Market leaders in the field of industrial conveyorised metal detection and X-Ray Equipment are Bizerba, BMSC, Eriez, JK Services, MCS Industries, Microsep and Teraoka to name but a few.

Bizerba – Solutions for the food industry

The food industry has very special requirements: Naturally, hygiene has a special importance. Product safety, for example by means of metal detectors, is extremely important. And last but not least, transparency and smooth running logistics chains are of high importance. Finally, food shall reach the customer in best quality.

Inspection Systems – From metal detectors to the X-ray devices up to the Vision System. Our inspection systems fulfill all requirements on quality assurance. They are user-friendly and work with a high throughput.

Metal Detectors – Bizerba metal detectors quickly and reliably detect all ferrous and non-ferrous metals in packaged and unpackaged goods. The separation systems from Bizerba may be used to reject contaminated packages on the operator side. A wide range of accessories is additionally available.

Metal Detection with Artificial Intelligence

With the help of artificial intelligence, THiNK detects significantly smaller metal foreign bodies than conventional metal detectors, even when the product effect is high. This greatly reduces the risk of unwanted product recalls, saves costs and protects your brand image

X-ray inspection systems – The monitoring and analysis of all relevant quality parameters from formulation and completeness check through to foreign object detection, packaging and labeling are top priorities for food manufacturers. Bizerba’s product inspection systems ensure 100% control.

Vision inspection systems – Our Vision inspection systems offer comprehensive solutions ranging from processing up to packaging of products. The automated testing improves product and process quality, enhances productivity and increases food safety.

BMSC Engineering – BMSC Engineering supplies a full range of Mesutronic metal detectors for all applications wet or dry, tunnel type or free fall. The range comes with the latest advanced microprocessor technology, touch pad electronics and digital two-channel signal processing to optimise detection sensitivity while minimising false rejects.

Mesutronic metal detectors are manufactured to highest food quality standards and are designed to withstand the harshest production environments.

JK Services – JK Services supplies Cintex metal detection and X-ray systems. The range of linear scanning x-ray systems combine hi-tech technology with cost-effective contaminant detection.

Loma Systems are available locally through Inspection & Coding Solutions (Nampak).

The award-winning Loma IQ3 and IQ3+ range of metal detectors offer true variable frequency, operating between 40 to 900 kHz.

The IQ3 and IQ3+ metal detector selects the correct operating frequency in seconds, thus eliminating past performance restrictions caused by limited frequency metal detectors. Changes in products or packaging that necessitate a frequency change no longer require the expense and inconvenience of operator intervention.

For harsh environments, Loma offers ultra-harsh metal detector search heads in the IQ3 and IQ3+ series.

Advanced construction consisting of 304L stainless steel, polymers and resins create water and dust tight seals – perfect for improving sanitisation, preventing erosion and combating thermal shock.

Loma Systems’ X4 and X5 series of x-ray inspection systems can inspect a wide range of packaged goods. The systems boast the highest detection performance and are designed to survive the harshest of food processing facilities. With ground-breaking fine grain imaging, it detects metallic and non-metallic contaminants –even for products packaged in foil or metalised film.

MCS Industries – MCS Industries is the sole distributor for Cassel Messtechnik GmbH in Africa. The X-Ray Shark is an x-ray device with an integrated conveyor belt that automatically inspects packaged products of various sizes.

The X-Ray Shark detects contaminants, as well as individual attributes like, for example, completeness, form and mass of the product. It classifies and sorts out contaminated products automatically. The frame is made out of stainless steel and the conveyor can be ordered with an additional quick release system for simple hygiene practices.

Microsep – Microsep supplies a comprehensive range of product inspection (PI) equipment solutions for all packaging and processing aspects of the food and beverage industry to ensure quality and safety.

Applications include the weighing and inspection of wet, dry, fresh and frozen foods. Microsep has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town , Durban and Port Elizabeth with trained service Engineers in all of our branches .

METTLER TOLEDO’s Safeline metal detectors and x-ray systems offer safety and quality assurance at every stage of the production process. Foil or metalised film packaging have no effect on the product inspection capabilities of the Safeline x-ray system, making it the perfect solution.

The X36 X-ray inspection system detects metal, glass, mineral stone, calcified bone, high-density rubbers in a wide range of retail packaging. It can simultaneously undertake product integrity checks such as measuring gross mass and zoned mass, counting components and checking seal integrity, so ensuring all-round product quality.

The Safeline in-line product inspection systems will eliminate end-of-line defects, contaminated products, automate final inspection processes to increase production efficiency, prevent common mistakes caused by human error, as well as ensure the high quality of the products to protect your brand. 

Eriez – Eriez has decades of experience protecting consumers and food processors alike from dangerous ferrous and nonferrous metal contamination. Eriez designs and manufactures effective magnetic separation, metal detection and material handling systems designed with both the food processors reputation and the consumers safety in mind.

Xtreme Metal Detectors

Made for industry applications including chemical, food processing, packaging, textiles, pharmaceuticals, plastics and rubber, the Xtreme® Metal Detector surpasses previous units and competitive models alike with enhanced features, improved sensitivity, intuitive operation and exceptional reliability.

The ultra-sleek Xtreme Metal Detector blends simplicity and sophistication with its easy-to-navigate control with extra-large colour interface.

The Eriez Xtreme Metal Detector comes in different models for wet, dry and liquid applications and even include an auto reject functionality.

Teraoka – Teraoka is the sole distributor of Teraoka/DIGI Weighing Systems and Anritsu Inspection Systems in Southern Africa as well as a proud Intermec Service Partner.

With headquarters in Johannesburg, Teraoka S.A. (PTY) LTD provides superior Sales and Service of Electronic Scales, Automated Weighing, Wrapping and Labeling Systems, Thermal Printers, Inspection Equipment, Self-Adhesive Labels and related Consumables for both the Retail Supermarket Industry as well as the Food Manufacturing Industry.

Teraoka offers the Anritsu range of rejectors (multi rejection options are available to eliminate products in different categories), metal detectors (dual wave, soft and hard contaminants) and the proven KD74 series X-ray machine.

Robotics –

As conventional automation techniques seem to be becoming fully exploited, the industry is turning to robotics to help deal with handling issues that used to be labour intensive or presented flexibility requirements, not easily addressed by conventional automation.

The ten top reasons to invest in robots include reducing operating costs and material wastage, improving product quality and consistency, improving work quality for employees, product output and manufacturing flexibility, high space savings, reduced labour turnover and capital costs and improved compliance with workplace health and safety rules.

The trend is underpinned by the number of industrial robots being supplied globally.

Rising labour costs, issues with cleanliness, speeds of production and the growing need for efficiency are all key driving factors for robots to relieve competitive pressures as well as impact on green considerations.

Robots handle hot loads and rapid cycle times with ease and offer freely programmable solutions, which can seamlessly adapt to changing production line conditions. This has made robots particularly suitable to automate manual handling applications, such as bread pan handling, lidding and de-lidding, de-panning and palletising.

The ever-growing demand for bread has related a move toward use of larger baking trays which, in addition to having to be handled hot, are also becoming too heavy for manual handling within the rapid cycle time requirements of a modern bakery.

Apart from the obvious labour saving component, robots also add unique on-board intelligence and decision making to the process – such as rejecting damaged trays and partially filled baking pans.

Robotics provides cost effective, high speed, high accuracy, and automated solutions.

Some advantages that robots bring to bakery automation applications include:

Bread pan handling involves the movement of particularly hot and heavy 10 and 12-strap baking trays into and out of storage. Typically the entire stock of pans is routed to a “pan store” at the end of each production cycle or run out.

Handling damage incurred due to pans being “thrown around” is a big problem leading to short pan life and poor product quality as dents on the pans also translate to dents in the product. Typical pan life under manual handling is about one year, whereas bakeries using robots to handle pans report up to between a six and eight years of pan life – relating to a significant cost consideration.

Because of the high accuracy and repeatability of robotics and the manner in which they are employed, pan- and lid life is extended due to less mechanical damage to these components.

Robots can also stack the pans neater and far higher than any man, resulting in significant floor space saving. Neatly stacked pans also offer improvements in hygiene.

Sensors within the gripper or pan pick up device can also identify non-empty pans, where a loaf may have failed to eject or has only been partially removed, and re-route that pan for rework.

Lidding and de-lidding involve the placement and removal of hot baking tray lids into and out of storage. It also entails the continuous recycling of lids during production. Improperly placed or absent lids can lead to a defective product as well line jamb-ups in following processes.

Conventional magnetic de-lidders frequently suffer jamb-ups whilst “dragging” the lid. The power and inactivity of the line leads to bent and folded pan lids. The continuous perfect vertical lift of a robot (even if performed form a moving line to which it is “slaved”) does not permit this to happen. Space saving, damage reduction and hygiene improvements, very much like the pan store application, are thus accomplished.

De-panning includes the removal of baked loaves by conventional de-panners and is generally limited to removing the loaves and placing them on a conveyor.

Product damage can be virtually eliminated by robotic de-panning as these machines lift the bread vertically from the pan as opposed to the cantilever type de-panners that remove the bread at an angle, often resulting in damage to the top of the loaf.

Various loaf forms can also be accommodated (square, round top) without adjustment on instruction from the central controller. Additionally loaves can be routed to conveyors or directly packed into trays where such production option is applicable. Sensors within the gripper can also detect missing loaves and take appropriate action where required.

Palletising entails end-of-line packing of loaves into standardised plastic trays. Robots may be employed to file trays, as well as to pick-and-place the trays for filling and onward to a trolley stack for direct delivery to the loading dock.

Sensors within the gripper detect typical damage to trays such as broken or missing handles and then reject the tray depending on the degree of damage.

There are a number of companies in South Africa supplying Robotic Solutions including ABB, Yaskawa Southern Africa, Robotic Innovations and Dale Automation.

Yaskawa Southern Africa supplies robots to the local baking industry. Our industry-leading, high-speed industrial robots include high-payload, extended-reach, ultra-manoeuvrable four axis palletising robots


Motoman Robots with Food Grade Grease are allowed to process and handle food, avoiding contamination of the food in the very unlikely case of leakages.

Our Cobots HC10DT-IP67, HC20DT, or Delta Pickers MPP3S and MPP3H have Food Grade Grease as a standard, other GP Series robots can be ordered with Food grade grease option, like GP7, GP8, GP12, GP25, GP50, other models on request.



ABB – Another local supplier of innovative robotic solutions is ABB, informing that the economic benefit that robotic solutions provide is critical to the success of its customers. Its FlexPicker system features a robotic pick-and-place system that increases production, im¬proves quality and cuts labour costs.

Robotic Innovations is also recognised as a leader in the field of industrial robotic systems integration and automation. Pretoria-based Robotic Innovations who design, manufacture and programme turnkey automation systems for a number of manufacturing applications.

Its expertise includes factory automation systems for robotic palletizing and handling, as well as offering complete conveying solutions.

Dale Automation – Bringing total automation solutions to the bakery sector locally is Johannesburg-based Dale Automation.

The company has been providing fully automated plant solutions for, amongst others, Albany, Sasko, Sunbake and Blue Ribbon since 2005 as well as to companies in the United Kingdom, Namibia, and Australia recently.

To these Blue Chip companies, Dale has supplied pan, lid and product conveyors, robotic lidding, de-lidding and de-panning systems, pan and lid stores, provers and ovens, refrigerated pan cooling systems, ambient and refrigerated spiral coolers, basket loading systems and crate stacking systems on plant installations.

Dale automation specialise in supplying bespoke conveyor systems that batch and collate bread loaves so that these are presented in the correct configuration to the slicing and bagging machines on semi-automated and for fully automated plant bakery systems.
These conveyor systems result in less damage to the product by eliminating double handling during the slicing and bagging process.

These conveyor systems can be partially or fully automated depending on the customers’ individual needs and requirements.

Dale Automation through its sister company Blue Belt manufacture locally the Modular belt that is extensively used in South Africa and abroad by OEM’s and manufacturers of conveyor systems.

This belt is available in Polypropylene and Acetal materials depending on the environment it is to be used in.


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