Selecting the right dough chunker
How to decide on the proper option for your operation.
BakingBusiness.com, July 3, 2012
by Dan Malovany

When producing yeast-raised baked goods, choosing the appropriate labor-saving dough chunker to portion and transfer dough from the mixer to the divider or sheeter often depends on a plethora of factors. Topos Mondial Corp. offers several dough chunkers from which bakeries can choose.

Stiff dough used for making bagels, flatbreads, pizza crusts and other lower-moisture products work best with the company’s rotary chunker, according to Damian Morabito, the company’s president. For soft, sticky doughs, he recommended slide-gate chunkers to portion doughs most effectively, especially if weight accuracy isn’t an issue.

Topos Mondial rotary chunkers rely on two adjacent, nonstick-coated 3-blade starwheel assemblies. As the blades rotate 120° at a time, they pull the dough out of the hopper. The blades on the counter-rotating wheels converge to cut the dough into pillow-sized pieces, releasing them to a dough handling conveyor below.

“These chunkers don’t put any stress on the dough,” Mr. Morabito said. “You’re not auguring or working the dough in any way like a single- or double-screw dough pump would, and you’re not degassing the dough, which helps maintain a desirable open cell structure in your product.”

Whether mounted on the floor or above the divider, Topos’ stainless-steel constructed, sanitary designed chunkers typically can be wheeled away from the line for sanitation and feature quick-release belts for ease of cleaning. Topos Mondial’s 1,000-lb floor-mounted systems work with twin-belt dough elevators. The system’s 29-in.-long dough chunking blades portion dough pieces onto a horizontal dough conveyor that moves them to the sandwich-style inclined conveyor. Features include non-sticking coated chunker blades, stainless steel sanitary construction, quick release belts for ease of cleaning and PLC controls. Topos Mondial also offers 2,000- and 2,500-lb dough chunkers.

Bakers need to consider several factors such as whether or not the dough needs to be degassed, whether portion control is important, and whether the dough is firm or soft and sticky before selecting a dough chunker, according to Mr. Morabito. Once the dough is chunked, then custom-built dough handling conveyor belts can be used to deliver the dough to one or multiple points virtually anywhere on the production floor, where the PLC will direct dough handling traffic.