Delivering versatility and variety
Sheeting and laminating system designs often can create a range of products on single line.
BakingBusiness.com, Feb. 1, 2013
by Shane Whitaker

Companies seeking to add new products to their portfolios may want to consider sheeting and laminating lines. Some bakers and snack manufacturers may be looking at them for the first time because these systems adapt new methods for making a greater variety of baked foods and snacks.

Bakers familiar with piece-based processes used for conventional breads and rolls need to familiarize themselves with the pros and cons of the continuous methods of sheeting and laminating, according to Eric W. Riggle, vice-president of Rademaker USA, Inc., Hudson, OH. These technologies can increase speeds and widen production ranges, he said.

"Usually the challenges bakers end up with are a result of buying the wrong machine that does not hold up to the rigors of an industrial bakery or is limited in its capacity and scope of products that it can produce," Mr. Riggle cautioned.

What’s driving installation of sheeting systems? It’s products such as crunchy wheat and rice snacks as well as sheeted potato chips, according to Donald Smith, engineering sales and service, Reading Baking Systems/Thomas L. Green, Robesonia, PA. "We have seen market share for traditional crackers being eroded by more snack-cracker-type products," he said. "Many of these products take a more healthy-for-you approach to build market share."

Automated sheeting and laminating lines help bakeries achieve cost-effective production. "Installing highly automated equipment reduces human errors and fluctuations in processes," said Jerry Murphy, president of Rondo, Inc., Moonachie, NJ.

Dough feeding equipment and makeup accessories make sheeting lines capable of producing many different products, according to David Moline, sales and marketing manager, Moline Machinery LLC, Duluth, MN. The company introduced its Yoga series dough formers that don’t put any stress on dough, allowing them to create a wider range of baked goods. "You develop a certain grain structure in the mixer, and you want to keep that," he said. "You don’t want that to be adversely affected by your dough feeder."

Bakers demand versatility

Today’s highly flexible sheeting systems can make baked foods using a variety of different methods all on the same line, according to Liam Burns, managing director, vice-president, Fritsch USA, Inc., Cranbury, NJ. They can be set up to mould the dough for pan and a variety of baguette-style products. A new adaption of coiling units allows certain types of baguettes and bread rolls to be produced using a coiling process rather than the moulding process. The main advantage is that the cut length of the dough piece can be changed in seconds rather than several minutes needed to change sizes when using the moulding process. For additional flexibility a BRWI rounding unit can be added for producing hamburger buns and rolls.

Today’s highly flexible sheeting systems can make baked foods using a variety of different methods all on the same line, according to Liam Burns, managing director, vice-president, Fritsch USA, Inc., Cranbury, NJ. They can be set up to mould the dough for pan and a variety of baguette-style products. A new adaption of coiling units allows certain types of baguettes and bread rolls to be produced using a coiling process rather than the moulding process. The main advantage is that the cut length of the dough piece can be changed in seconds rather than several minutes needed to change sizes when using the moulding process. For additional flexibility a BRWI rounding unit can be added for producing hamburger buns and rolls.

Fritsch also offers its Omega cutter for makeup of baguettes formed on sheeting lines. "The profile on this cutting device makes a rounded end on the baguette," he said. "Because you’re cutting the end of one dough piece and forming the beginning of another, it looks like an omega-shaped (Ω) cut out from the dough string." That scrap is then removed automatically with a special piece of equipment, which puts it back in either at the feed of the line or back into the mix. Also, the line quickly adjusts to make many baguette sizes.

While the popularity of croissants and Danish is still creating demand for sheeting and laminating lines, James Cummings, president of Tromp Group USA, Dacula, GA, noted that the company has installed many lamination systems for making bread. "This allows production of tight-grain, thin-crust, high-quality bread at higher speeds than conventional divide-and-round bread lines," he said.

Lately, the trend has moved toward adding laminating to conventional baguette and moulded bread lines as well as flatbread lines, Mr. Riggle added. "The laminating step allows the baker to increase the volume of his bread product as well as gain some measure of control over the crumb and texture of the final product," he said. "In the flatbread and wrap market, this lamination allows greater strength in the final product when being wrapped around a filling by the end user."

Besides adding strength, laminating helps maintain the integrity of the shape of die-cut tortillas, said Mr. Moline, whose company specializes in high-capacity sheeting and laminating lines as wide as 72 in. Also, he pointed out that the company’s closed-loop sheeting lines use automated tension sensors to make cascading adjustments throughout the system as it senses when the amount of stress on the dough is changing.

Using less floor space

Rheon USA, Irvine, CA, constantly looks at how it can make lines more flexible and, thus, more attractive to manufacturers, said Jon Thompson, the company’s national sales manager. Accordingly, bakers can expand their offerings without having to put in a whole new line, he added.

Rheon USA, Irvine, CA, constantly looks at how it can make lines more flexible and, thus, more attractive to manufacturers, said Jon Thompson, the company’s national sales manager. Accordingly, bakers can expand their offerings without having to put in a whole new line, he added.

Such makeup lines rely on accessory tools and options that enable not only full-size products but also smaller multiple lanes and, thus, meet the trend for making smaller baked foods and pastries for foodservice and in-store bakeries, Mr. Thompson noted.

Sheeting and laminating systems generally require a lot of square footage, and bakeries can have issue finding the available floor space for the equipment, according to Mr. Thompson. To this end, Rheon introduced its compact MM3000 roll-in sheet maker that can be combined with a fat pump and layering systems. The compact L-shaped sheet maker fits into approximately 64 sq ft and processes up to 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) per hour.

By definition, lamination of pastry doughs requires interleaving with fat to create the characteristic layering and flakiness. A new fat pump from Tromp also features a more compact design. It provides continuous, consistent feed to the laminator in a compact footprint, according to Mr. Cummings. It also allows for fast sanitation and less waste.

Rademaker developed a fat pump to handle a full range of fats. It accommodates a wide range of fat temperature requirements as well as zero-trans fats, which can be difficult because they vary so much in formulation between suppliers, Mr. Riggle said.

To meet bakers’ demands for innovative products, Rondo offers accessories that allow production of many different baked foods on one line. It also builds special systems such as the Twist & Place machine (see "Further automating formation" on Page 98).

Donuts, gluten-free baked foods, croissants and thin filo doughs are also driving sheeting equipment sales, according to Mr. Murphy. "Thin filo-type dough lines will become more common to replace puff/Danish dough because of its healthier nature," he added. Rondo introduced a thin dough line at iba 2012.

Also at that show, the company launched its integrated Rondo Control Concept (RCC), which Mr. Murphy described as an intuitive approach.

Creating consistency

 

Bakers face key issues today in controlling the flow of dough through the sheeting and laminating process. Mr. Smith cited the need for accurate stacking of laminated sheets and precise dough thickness control to achieve consistent dough density throughout the process.

Thus, Reading’s systems control the amount of dough in the
hopper of the initial dough sheeter and lead to uniform density in the initial sheet. The company’s laminating machines are driven by servo motors to facilitate accurate lamination. "A laser-controlled dough flow control system is used to regulate the flow of dough into each gauge roll, eliminating overfeeding and ¬≠underfeeding of each gauge roll," Mr. Smith added.

With working widths ranging from 24 to 63 in. (600 to 1,600 mm), Rademaker sheeting and laminating lines can produce in excess of 30,000 lb of finished product per hour. "Our lines are custom designed to match the quality and expectations of our customers," Mr. Riggle noted.

Dough billets need to be consistent with folding and adding the fat, Mr. Cummings added. "Once you have achieved a uniformly consistent block, stacking them on a sheeting line is the next important step," he explained. "More and more customers understand that consistent dough billets, constant rest and retard times as well as brick or penny stacking are all important to ensure a high-quality finished product."

Focusing on sanitary designs

 

Considering bakery sanitation needs, Mr. Burns explained that Fritsch’s sheeting lines do not require oil to process dough through the heads. Used in excess, release oils can negatively affect final characteristics of the product and also increase sanitation concerns. "(Not using oil) can cut cleaning time by at least 70%," he said.

Midos, a newly designed industrial dough band former from Rondo, does not require flour or release oil and offers defined control of the dough structure for consistent width and thickness, yielding precise weight accuracy, Mr. Murphy said. The band former’s open design meets the latest hygiene standards and can be washed down during sanitation.

Reading has done extensive work to provide the baker with more sanitary and easier-to-clean equipment. "We are designing equipment to be safer yet with fewer guards to ­facilitate the sanitation process,"
Mr. Smith said.

Rademaker’s lines also reduce maintenance and sanitation times. " ‘Easy to clean’ and ‘easy to maintain’ mean the line is backed up and making sellable product faster," Mr. Riggle said, noting that bakeries expect high-quality efficiencies as well as product yields, day in and day out, with
minimal downtime.

Many bakers want equipment that meets US Department of Agriculture sanitation requirements but without the extra cost, according to Mr. Cummings. "Tromp Group is focused on making our machines simple for maintenance and cleaning. We offer things like open-frame construction at a very minimal cost,"
he said.

To facilitate this level of cleaning, Moline uses standoffs and quick-release belts, and there are always runoff points so water cannot collect, Mr. Moline said.

Rheon also builds its laminating lines to washdown standards. "It tends to be something we are asked for more and more,"
Mr. Thompson said.

Bakers and snack food makers seeking to expand their product portfolios may want to consider sheeting and laminating systems. Processors will need to evaluate such an investment carefully, but it could very well open up their businesses by creating a variety of baked foods all done on a
single line.