Speed Meets Accuracy in Depositors
by Charlotte Atchley
When dispensing dough or batter into packages or pans, every baker wants a depositor that delivers speedy, accurate portions. Bakers also want depositors designed with sanitation in mind. With food safety concerns and allergen awareness in the spotlight, equipment must protect the dough or batter from contamination and be easily cleaned between production runs.
To meet these needs, equipment companies are developing machines that can handle batters and doughs with various viscosities and inclusions at increasing speeds. New depositors communicate effectively with conveyor systems to ensure batters, doughs and fillings end up in the pans, packaging or products instead of on empty conveyor belts. And there’s no need to worry about overflow or excess because new technology prevents dripping between deposits and overfilling cakes, cupcakes and muffins with creme filling.
Bakers want quick deposits and changeovers, according to the companies developing the latest in depositing technology. Depositors must keep up with the rest of production such as the conveyor belts moving pans under the depositor and the transfer pump moving batter and dough to the depositor. Depositing rates must match oven speeds to keep the baking chamber filled.
“As efficiencies on the line increase, customers are finding the older technologies can’t keep up,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic development, Reiser, Canton, MA. Reiser designed the Vemag line of dough and batter depositors with the specific intention of never becoming the bottleneck on a bakery’s production line. The company’s Waterwheel attachment for depositors flows portioned dough or batter into multiple lanes for efficiency and speed in high-volume bakeries.
Piston depositors offer fast depositing of batters and fillings with precise weight control.
“The advantage to a piston depositor is that you can get the speed with regard to deposits per minute based upon the diameter of the piston and length of its stroke,” said Steve Crocker, regional sales manager, The Peerless Group, Sidney, OH. The company’s piston depositors can make up to 90 deposits per minute depending on the size and consistency of the deposit. Its Fedco APD piston depositor offers quick scaling adjustments with little interruption in the production line, keeping everything moving smoothly.
Bakeries need depositors that keep up with throughput. The longer a depositor runs and faster it deposits, the more money it is making for everyone involved. So it’s important that changeovers in equipment between products are done quickly and smoothly.
Fritsch GmbH, with US offices in Cedar Grove, NJ, makes changeovers easy on its Multifiller using quick-release fasteners on filling pumps, making them easy to exchange when switching between products.
Depositing on target
A depositor could be the fastest in the world, but if it can’t hit the pan in the right spot, a bakery might as well be depositing money directly into the trashcan. Accuracy becomes the second part of the depositing equation, but no less important. The amount of batter or dough coming out of the depositor needs to be precisely measured and then must be safely placed in the pan without drips or trails. Anything less is wasted money.
Proper pan registration is critical. “If we know where the pan or cup is, then we can properly deposit into its center,” said Robert Peck, vice-president of engineering, E.T. Oakes Corp., Hauppauge, NY. Indexing conveyors release pans to time their arrival with the deposits and creme injections. E.T. Oakes can also mount a depositor or creme injector over an existing conveyor, using a rotary encoder to determine pan positions.
According to Mr. Peck, the company has gone out of its way to ensure that its machines don’t deposit onto an empty conveyor or that its creme injectors don’t deposit into empty pans. Should a pan fall out of sync with the machine, the depositing or creme injecting manifold rises in the air and remains there until the problem resolves. If two or three pans go by and the problem remains, the machine automatically shuts down and sounds an alarm.
“It’s always a challenge with any baker to get the greatest accuracy possible in the deposit,” Mr. Crocker said. “Bakers don’t what to over- or underdeposit. Preventing that is very important.”
Both the Fedco Manifold Depositor and W Series Piston Depositor from Peerless use rotary valves to prevent depositing errors or batter dripping on the pan.
As a part of its Vemag line, Reiser developed a Rotary Dripless Valve attachment. This filling head connects to the Vemag Stuffer and fills cups, trays and packages on a moving line without mess.
For better control over deposit quantity, Haas-Mondomix, Almere, The Netherlands, uses pressurization in its PSD series of depositors. The batter or dough is fed into single inlets, and the pump pressure along with the opening time of the nozzle valves controls the quantity of the deposit. While these depositors may be suitable for chocolate and aerated products, the company also offers volumetric depositors for cakes and cookies. These volumetric pump rotors transfer the batter or dough to the nozzles. A human-machine interface controls the pump rotor rotation, increasing precision in depositing.
Skovlunde, Denmark-based Haas-Meincke’s V60 system uses dosing pumps to measure deposits consistently and precisely even those with large inclusions. A vacuum in the dosing pumps stops deposits without any trailing or over-depositing.
E.T. Oakes’ creme injector also employs a vacuum in the injection needles to prevent overflow when injecting filling into cupcakes.
“Sometimes with other equipment, you have creme coming out of the top of the cake,” Mr. Peck said. “That messes up the packaging equipment.” To prevent that from happening, when the valve on E.T. Oakes’ creme injector closes, the pistons create negative pressure that stops the creme from coming out of the injection needle.
With rising awareness of allergens and food safety, bakers ask for equipment that will protect the product from contamination and is easy to clean. That ease for sanitation comes directly from the machine’s design. Fewer parts and easily disassembled equipment are key characteristics for sanitation.
Hinds-Bock Corp., Bothell, WA, designed its depositor pistons with sanitation in mind. The pistons can be removed as one unit, so an operator doesn’t have to handle multiple parts. The spouts can come apart without any tools, and the machine can be disassembled in just a few minutes for cleaning.
Reiser designs its equipment to be not only easy to clean but also sanitary in production. “All of our equipment is positive-displacement,”
Mr. McIsaac said. “What goes in the hopper first comes out first.”
Whatever goes in the hopper, whether its batter, dough, filling or icing, bakers want it to come out of the depositor quickly and on target to keep production lines moving and increase throughput.