Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and their crossbred varieties and derivatives. In baking, gluten is the binding agent within flour that prevents baked goods from crumbling. Gluten-free, once considered a fad, is now becoming mainstream with more than 15 percent of North American households eating gluten-free foods. As a result, the market for gluten free foods has doubled within the past five years and is now estimated to be approximately USD5.5 billion. To meet this growing demand, Bakery On Main, a commercial bakery specializing in gluten-free foods, needed to significantly increase its capacity. "We were operating at 100 percent of capacity. Our bulk handling equipment, which consisted largely of inclined conveyor belts, was inefficient and very labor intensive," says Michael Smulders, owner of Bakery On Main. "It was also an open system, so ingredients were exposed to the atmosphere." After investigating various ways to upgrade the existing equipment, all of which proved unsatisfactory, Smulders decided to build an entirely new facility with an integrated bulk handling system designed specifically for gluten-free baked goods. He commissioned an independent engineering firm to handle the overall design. The firm worked closely with the Project Engineering Division of Flexicon Corporation to create a fully integrated system based on the company's FLEXI-DISCT Tubular Cable Conveyor (TCC) system. Inside the TCC system, a series of low-friction polymer discs attached to a stainless steel cable gently slide bulk materials through smooth stainless steel tubing.