Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter
Owners of bread company National Bakery have invested close to J$100 million in a new cooling system to replace equipment that has been on the fritz for more than a year.
Trainee manager Craig Hendrickson said the old equipment, which was bought second-hand nine years ago, cuts two to three per cent off brown bread production per month.
"When it stopped working it was a headache for everybody. And when it is working, it is in the back of everybody's mind wondering if the cooler is going to break down today," said Craig, who is the son of National Bakery boss Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson.
"It could compromise the quality of the products and we don't want to give poor quality bread to our customers," he said.
The plant at 53 Half-Way Tree Road outputs about 65,000 loaves of bread per day.
After the bread is baked, a conveyor belt takes it to the cooling rack.
The older machine used chains that could grab and pinch the bread, sometimes damaging the product, which Hendrickson said would be used as bread crumbs or donated to charities or homes.
The new equipment uses a balancing mechanism.
The new system took almost three weeks to install and was scheduled to be up and running this week.
The bakery cools 2,800 loaves per rotation using the old coolers, but can handle as much as 4,000 loaves at a time with the new machine. But the added cooling capacity will not be utilised just yet, said Hendrickson.
"If we are to increase output at a particular time we would have to increase the size of an entire line," he said.
"This mean getting a bigger oven, as the number of bread baked depends on the amount that the oven can bake at a time, and you can't really turn up the heat in the oven as everything has to be baked at a particular temperature for a certain length of time. We can increase output by adding extra shifts," he said.
National will not be discarding the old cooler. The equipment will be repaired and kept as a backup, according to Hendrickson.
National is planning no other upgrades at this time, he said.