Spooner Vicars' research, training and product development centre team consists of food technologist and development centre manager James Outram, baking technologist Bob Parker and training manager Mike Ball, who together provide tailor-made training programmes for the company's customers.
The training programmes are available either as refresher courses for customers' existing personnel, or induction courses for newly recruited line operators, maintenance engineers, technical and managerial staff. Subjects cover the range of baking processes - ingredient selection, mixing, forming, baking, drying and cooling.
Members of the team will visit the client's bakery in advance of a course to make notes and take pictures of the working environment, so that the equipment used during the programme will be similar to that used by trainees at their workplace. Courses can also be conducted at the client's premises.
A typical day-long baking course for a team of six to eight trainees starts with a morning's theory in the conference room. In the afternoon, there is a practical test of how much has been digested. Irrespective of whether the client company bakes confectionary, pet food or bread, trainees are asked to bake a chocolate chip cookie.
The cookie is an excellent test of good baking practice, taking around five minutes to bake and including ingredients of easily melted chocolate chips and soft dough. Depending on oven settings, the resultant cookie can be a perfect specimen, a burnt offering or almost raw. The senior manager on the programme is then invited to consume the cookie produced by his or her colleagues.
The Spooner Vicars training and product development centre offers both full sized equipment and pilot scale equipment for experimental work. This equipment includes a 1.2 metre wide multipurpose processing line for laminated, sheeted, rotary moulded, rotary cut and deposited products and a 34-metre-long oven of the latest hybrid design combining one direct gas-fired radiant zone and two forced convection zones.
There is also a 60-metre two-tier demonstration loop of Spooner Vicars' Continuous Proof & Bake System, where customers can try out various types of grids and pan combinations for baked products ranging from bread and buns to pizzas and croissants.
A wide range of pilot scale equipment includes a variety of mixers, provers, coolers and a three-zone 6m-long forced convection oven with a 300mm wide band that is used to bake a wide range of bread, cakes, buns and rolls as well as speciality products.
There is a full instrumentation service provided for benchmarking and problem solving, oven data logging including temperature, humidity and heat flux. Also offered is a texture analysis service using TA-XT2 for quality control.
Further details of Spooner Vicars' training programmes are available from Mike Ball, at +44 1925 296600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.