Food Engineering

Baker finds solution for inconsistent dough quality

September 7, 2011
Bolletje, a 140-year-old Dutch baking company, improves quality and achieves better insight into its inventory.


Bolletje is a Dutch baked goods manufacturer.
Bolletje, a Dutch baked goods manufacturer with 500 employees and three plants in the Netherlands, needed to solve a production issue: variation in the quality of its dough from batch to batch due to inconsistent process execution. The company turned to long-time partner, GE Intelligent Platforms, for a solution that would help the baker not only improve quality, but also achieve better insight into inventory and provide a method of tracing its products from the bakery to the store.

The selection and implementation of the Proficy solution was initially driven by the company’s information technology group that was looking for an integrated implementation with one interface and easy, actionable access to information. As the potential gains became clearer, the production group took on overall project management and engaged additional stakeholders. Management’s goal was to make sure it could bring new operators on board quickly and efficiently without a loss in productivity or quality. Shift leaders wanted less waste and more throughput.

The baker started the implementation of the software with a small production line that primarily produced the dough for specialty seasonal- and holiday-themed products, and then expanded to three additional lines that were involved in making dough for pretzels. Working with Novotek, GE’s partner in the Netherlands, Bolletje chose the Proficy software platform because it provided an integrated system for batch execution, MES automation and visualization. The combination of Proficy iFIX, Historian and Plant Applications became the standard manufacturing platform for Bolletje, giving the company better control and visibility into the whole manufacturing process.

In 2010, the company introduced the Proficy solution as it installed new production lines used for baking crispbreads (crackers) and rusks (biscuits). The software made data collection much easier, enabling capitalization of performance information obtained from the production lines.

In addition to quality, Bolletje’s plans include improving inventory accuracy. The current system is based on an accounting practice called backflushing, where the company accounts for material usages based on counts of finished product. This approach can drive incorrect scheduling and production decisions. The company plans to obtain more visibility into the actual use of raw materials to improve materials planning, and get more accurate understanding of material costs for each product line. With the software’s integrated solution, inventory accuracy can be achieved while also enabling end-to-end traceability of ingredients, processing conditions and quality data-all linked to each production lot.

“We are still implementing elements of the solution, so the full results are a bit down the road. But already, shift leaders are very enthusiastic about the solution,” says B-J Hudepohl, Bolletje production manager. “They see less waste, and new workers are being trained faster, ensuring the expertise of seasoned operators is captured. In fact, there has only been one bad batch of pretzels since the system was installed on that line.”

For more information on GE Intelligent Platforms solutions for food and beverage companies, visit the food and beverage website.