Portioning Precisely
New dividers and divider/rounders allow bakers to output wider product ranges and handle a variety of doughs — all on a single machine.
BakingBusiness.com, March 1, 2012
by Shane Whitaker

Bakers demand dividers and divider/rounders that work with a wide variety of doughs and are capable of producing a range of piece weights. These machines also must precisely portion dough pieces while maintaining the quality of the dough fed into them.

“First and foremost is that the divider must divide product accurately,” said John McIsaac, vice-president of business development, Reiser, Canton MA. “The ‘cash register’ needs to be able to handle the full range of products on the line. The divider must maintain the top quality that the baker intended.”

Merle Cooper, Midwest sales director, Belshaw-Adamatic Bakery Group, Auburn, WA, noted bakers often want a divider sized sufficiently to do a large portion of their production. To accomplish this, the company manufactures divider/rounders that handle a wide range of production rates and scaling weights. The Adamatic ADR, VDR and MDR divider/rounders produce dough pieces up to 19 oz and as small as 1¼ oz on the ADR and VDR and 1 oz on the MDR.

Building in flexibility

Any divider installation, according to Bruce Campbell, vice-president, dough processing technologies, AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, VA, must take into account the product mix and rates it will be responsible for, as well as plan the proper training resources. “AMF offers thorough analysis of all potential products to be run to ensure that the gearing, sizing and configuration of the new divider will match the potential demands of the present and future,” he added. “A line that will produce only three or four products can be configured for high efficiency on only these items. But a line that will produce 30 or 40 different product types needs to have more flexibility built in. AMF can generally offer one line to suit all these needs; it just depends on the options and how the layout is designed.”

Cinch Bakery Equipment, Little Falls, NJ, offers dividers from GBT Bakery Technology GmbH, Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, and Backtechnik SI GmbH, Unterkirnach, Germany. Dividers from both companies are suited for handling a wide variety of dough, including those with long floor times without damaging cell structures.

Using curve control and intelligent pressure regulation, the GBT Olympia provides high capacity, dough conservation and high weight accuracy, according to Wolfgang Fuhst, CEO of GBT. Because there is no overlap in the movements of the knife, pistons or dough chamber, the oil-free Olympia divider does not damage dough while offering high yields.

Gerd Maag, general manager of Backtechnik, noted that the hydraulic system regulates pressure in the dividing chambers of its Soft 3B and Soft 3B 2P dividers, allowing them to gently handle high water absorption doughs. The dough chamber also is now plasma hardened to give it a much longer life span.

Adamatic designed its ADR suction divider/rounders for smaller bakeries, producing up to 4,800 pieces per hour, and the VDR and MDR rounder/dividers provide much higher production rates and are both oil-free systems. Why oil-free? Divider oil can create holes in the dough and inconsistencies in coloration, Ms. Cooper explained. In a 6-pocket configuration, the VDR produces up to 18,000 pieces per hour while a 10-pocket MDR makes up to 30,000 pieces per hour.

In conjunction with its stockholder, WP Haton BV, Panningen, The Netherlands, Gemini Bakery Equipment Co. has upgraded its combination divider/rounder to make a much wider weight range, according to Mark Rosenberg, CEO of Gemini/KB Systems, Philadelphia, PA. “Our specialty roll and pizza clients historically used our equipment to produce a fairly narrow range of products and weight ranges,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Most of Gemini’s specialty roll lines produce round rolls, moulded rolls and pizza crusts from 1 to 7 oz. Recent advances in our divider technology now permit our equipment to operate up to
approximately 20 oz. This range is ideal for small breads and larger rolls, and it represents a major advantage for pizza shell manufacturers.”

Pizza bakeries also have committed to producing higher-quality pizza shells with better texture and improved eating characteristics. “Although there are some advantages to an extrusion-style divider, this style divider is usually more punishing to the dough and requires rounding equipment that is separate from the divider,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “We replaced a number of extrusion-style dividers over the past two years because the client needed a divider and rounder that was less punishing to the dough. Our dividers are equipped with adjustable compression features that allow different dough types to run with more or less power.”

Niche challenges

An evolving product range presents another challenge for dividers. Bakers today produce healthier, heartier breads to fill narrower niches than before, thus requiring more versatility from dividers, according to Mr. McIsaac. “Gluten-free, with its very challenging doughs, remains a growing opportunity we embrace,” he said.

In addition, bakers run a range of products on a single divider, so it must handle doughs with the lowest to the highest absorptions while maintaining quality and accuracy, Mr. McIsaac added. Reiser’s Vemag dividers’ unique double-screw pumping system gently meters and transports a variety of doughs accurately and with minimal work. Larger-diameter and advanced control of the double-screws allowed Reiser to decrease the mechanical work on the dough while actually increasing weight accuracy and lowering giveaway.

AMF recently developed a breakthrough technology for dividing called Do Flex. This system eliminates the normal metering pump and valves, replacing them with individual servo-controlled metering pumps on each lane. “On 4-, 6-, 8-, 9- and 10-pocket dividers, this drastically reduces the back pressure and also automatically balances scaling across the ports,” Mr. Campbell said. “Operation is very easy, and dough stress is significantly reduced. In one trial on a specialty dough with lots of porosity, the system pressure required for good scaling was only 7 psi on an 80-g dough piece at 60 cuts per minute.”

Because the recipe management program controls the port block out of individual lane servos, changeovers are simplified. With the press of a button, the Do Flex changes from a 3-lane system doing 150 g dough balls to an 8-lane system making 35 g dough pieces.

Also, AMF’s Vector Technology provides better dough handling for high-speed bread and bun dividers. “This major redesign of the auger/tunnel/vacuum system reduced the work on the dough as it was processed through the divider,” Mr. Campbell said. “The results have been very positive, including significant reduction in temperature, improved scaling accuracy, ability to produce more open-grain structure and lower maintenance. Scaling and efficiency was improved by eliminating the need for ‘blow back’ during production because the vacuum system no longer can plug up while running.”

Reiser’s dividers offer different capacities for various production requirements, and it often teams its dividers with its ProcessCheck checkweighers to fine-tune portioning as the dough ages from the front of a batch to its back. The checkweigher provides verification and tracking data for the bakery, according to Mr. McIsaac. In addition, the company recently added Eagle rounders and flouring conveyors to its product line in response to customer demand.

Just as their name implies, dividers divide dough, and today bakers demand that they be versatile and flexible to produce a wide range of products and piece sizes.