Vision Tracking System Helps Manufacturer & Clients


At MJ Engineering, we don’t settle for a quick fix; we work to solve the root problem. That is exactly what we did when one of the largest pan manufacturers in the US approached us looking for a solution to a problem their bakery customers faced. 

Problem: Malfunction Due to Overuse 

The problem was, after so many baking cycles, the non-stick coating used on the pans wore off. The quick fix was for the bakery to send those pans back to the manufacturer for recoating. The better fix was for the manufacturer to contact MJ Engineering. As MJ Engineering worked on a custom solution, it became clear that the coating was not the direct source of the problem.


The coating wore off naturally when it exceeded a certain number of thermal cycles. In other words, the pans were malfunctioning due to overuse. Many of the bakery owners were only using a portion of the baking pans they received from the manufacturer because there was no way to track them.

Solution: Vision Sensor Technology 

MJ Engineering resolved that problem by designing a tracking system that could read a laser-etched code on the bottom of each pan as it passed over a vision sensor on its way through the oven. Then MJ Engineering sends the data to the manufacturer’s custom software that allows the bakeries to interpret the pan usage data from the vision inspection equipment to determine when to recoat or switch pans.  


“The baking pan tracker effectively does two things,” said Richard Wand, owner of MJ Engineering. “It allows bakers to understand their pan management and rotation schedules through the compiled data from the scanner, and it also allows them to see that their pans are meeting the warranty life that the manufacturer stands by.”

Results: Entire System Working More Efficiently

MJ’s engineers developed a way to use common, easily accessible components to integrate with MJ Engineering’s proprietary tracking software.

Now, bakery personnel can install new pan trackers—about the size of a breadbox—in a pinch with simple tools. 

As Keith Kneidel, project manager for MJ Engineering, said, “We’ve taken the technologies that are there and married everything to a complete system: the camera technology (made by SICK), the PLC, or user-interface computer, the screen, and the FTP to get the data back to the manufacturer.” All the individually sourced components work together to allow the bakers to focus on baking.


Not only are buns no longer sticking to pans, but the data being gathered via automated inspection is also providing the pan manufacturer with up-to-date information on their pan’s durability and coating competency. The bakery owners can log onto an online portal for real-time updates on their pans. Buns are going into customers’ mouths instead of trash cans.

The Solution to Your Problem May Be A Tracking System

The ultimate solution to the pan problem turned out to be much larger than just recoating.


In fact, MJ Engineering’s pan tracking system not only extended the life of each pan, but also the relationship with the pan manufacturer and the bakery owners. Reducing product waste and shipping time between the bakeries and the manufacturer also made MJ Engineering’s system a win for the pan manufacturer.

To learn more about this system, or to get started on your own solution, give MJ Engineering a call today at 614-891-6111.