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Mardi, 18 Octobre 2011 12:00

Bun-Making Goes High Tech

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  • 12:00 pm  | 
  • Wired October 2011

Even the distribution of the seeds is carefully controlled.

Chains like McDonald’s are committed to gastronomic perfection. And by perfection we mean utter uniformity. Most fast food giants have strict specifications for their suppliers to make sure that no unique or distinguishing features creep in, right down to the placement of sesame seeds on the buns. To meet those exacting standards, the bakers at Flowers Foods in Thomasville, Georgia, inspect their freshly baked buns manually using calipers and a colorimeter. But with a production line that runs at about 1,000 bpm (buns per minute), a slipup could require trashing hundreds of pounds of blemished carbs. Engineers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute have devised a system for inspecting breadstuffs automatically, using image-processing technology. A camera trained on the production line captures an image of each bun, and software analyzes its color to determine whether it’s over- or undercooked, then adjusts the oven accordingly. The program also checks the bun’s shape and diameter and the distribution of garnishes, like sesame seeds or a cornmeal dusting. Ovenmaker BakeTech is working to commercialize the prototype, which has been saving Flower’s buns for the past year. May you never get stuck with a unique baked good again.

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French (Fr)English (United Kingdom)

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