Oven belts must take the heat

by Laurie Gorton
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When selecting a new oven, or refurbishing an older one, bakers should not overlook the role that the oven belt plays in delivering high quality baked foods. They have to withstand the extreme thermal and mechanical stresses of baking while also enabling proper heat transmission.

“Often, bakers select their oven belt to achieve a certain product marking,” said Kenneth King, commercial support manager, Ashworth Bros., Inc., Winchester, Va. But selection of oven belts also affects the conduction of heat to the product.

“This can directly impact the dwell time of the product in the oven as well as product quality,” he added.

Treated steel oven belts can handle operating temperatures as high as 750 degrees F, but as sturdy as they are, they still have to bear up to the rigors of everyday bakery use … and abuse.

“Maintaining even heating across the oven belt’s width is also important because uneven heating can cause belt-tracking issues,” Mr. King observed.

Bad tracking results in uneven baking and problems downstream with product orientation. It stretches belts or causes waviness, noted Daniela Weiszhar, marketing manager, Berndorf Belt Technology USA, Gilberts, Ill.

“Cleaning the oven belt is also important because it can impact heat transfer and the longevity of the belt,” Mr. King said.

Baking performance decreases when cleaning is neglected, Ms. Weiszhar said. This occurs “when the existing belt has lost optimal surface qualities such as the dark finish and flatness or have become coated with burnt product debris,” she said. Damage also may happen when skid bars and cross supports are improperly positioned.
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