Reliable and durable divider keeps on dividing more than 20 years later
First installed in 1998 by bakery and food production equipment specialist, European Process Plant Ltd (EPP), a Koenig Mini Rex dough dividing and rounding machine has been used at Colston Bakeries in Worcestershire for 22 years, becoming a trusted tool to deliver efficiency and consistency. Colston has seven shops and one central bakery in Malvern, with locations dotted within a 12-mile radius. The family have been bakers for about 100 years,delivering high quality and reasonable prices tolocal customers and wholesalers.
“We had a previous roll plant for about 10 years, and we were unhappy with its performance,” says Peter Clarke, Co-owner, Colston Bakeries.“There was a lot of waste – we were cleaning more waste dough out of the bottom of the machine than we were receiving rounded dough products. We went to several bakeries to look at several dividers, plus EPP took us to thePuratos Innovation Centre at Fringford, where we were able to try out the Koenig machine hands-on, with an expert available to assist with any queries we had.”
After opting for the Koenig – back in 1998 – the machine has been put through its paces six days a week, 52 weeks per year.Since then, the machine has been producing about 15,000 products per week through the divider, and more than 15 million in its lifetime so far.“We purchased the head machine and forming station in one go, and it has been a very, very good machine ever since,” says Peter.“We do white rolls, brown rolls, teacakes, hot cross buns and lots of donuts in a variety of shapes. Everything goes through the Koenig Mini Rex.EPP has looked after it well with regular servicing, which is probably one of the main reasons why it has lasted so well. Previous roll plants we’ve had certainly have not lasted this long. I was shocked when I checked the label which revealed how long we had owned it!”
Being forced to close its cafés during the pandemic, Peter was concerned that revenue issues could arise, but the challenging situation enabled Colston to expand its margins in other areas. “Bread rolls sold really well, as did many other products. Sales of fresh cream actually trebled, and cakes also increased. I can only put it down to local customers wanting a treat;people who would normally be out at work had to stay at home, and they came out locally to buy from us. It was very surprising to me. At the start of the pandemic, there was a huge flour shortage for home bakers, we were able to supply that to the local community, which was very well received. We sold a staggering amount, and it really helped with customer relations, as well as with turnover. Where we lost in some areas we managed to regain in others.”
The divider has even been able to step up to the challenge when placed under added strain. “We once supplied to a wholesaler for a show at the NEC, and the machine divided 30,000 rolls within five days. That was quite exceptional for a small bakery like us, and ithandled it without any trouble at all. We don’t use it close to its capacity.”
A recent electrical issue with the machine prompted Colston and EPP into action. “We had a problem with the machine relating to an electronic control panel. Because we’ve had it so long, Koenig has since moved on twice in its models, with newer electronics. The electronics in ours were very much obsolete, and spares were unavailable. We looked at buying a new machine or replacing it with a reconditioned model. EPP and Koenig came up with a solutionwhich allowed us to upgrade and fit modern electrics into our original machine, giving better control. It has brought it up to modern standards. Because the machine has worked so well – with nothing wrong on the mechanical side of things – we decided to invest and replace the electronics as suggested. The EPP engineers were here for a morning, they did a fantastic job with the upgrade. The belts have been changed as needed, and we look after it. It looks like new and think it will last for more years to come.”
“We’re thrilled that Colston Bakeries has been able to enjoy such an outstanding return on investment with its divider, which has clearly helped them to deliver consistency and quality to its local customer base,” says Michael Lomas, Technical Sales Manager, EPP. “It is testament to the ultra-robust build quality of Koenig machines that Peter, and his team have been able to enjoy such a lengthy and reliable service. It also emphasises the importance of maintenance – regular services are key to maximising the life of any machine that has such heavy workloads. We’re also pleased that we have been able to continue our relationship with Colston, offering servicing when required and helping to sort out any issues with efficiency as they arise.”