Clean cuts and maintenance

by Charlotte Atchley
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Eventually, blades will be blades, and they will get dull. Once this happens, they need to be replaced. This is a pricey reality of slicing, but a proper cleaning and maintenance routine keeps blades from needing to be replaced prematurely, whether from breakage or dulling.

“General house cleaning and maintenance will keep your machines doing the best,” said Craig Kominiak, sales consultant, Erika Record, Clifton, NJ. Those crumbs that, despite the sharpest blades and most optimal performing machines, inevitably start to accumulate need to be cleaned off the slicer at regular intervals. Without this regularly scheduled cleaning, whether it’s after every shift or at the end of every day, these crumbs will harden and damage the equipment, including, but not limited to, premature breaking of blades.

Routine maintenance inspections work in tandem with sanitation to keep equipment working. “Periodic inspections of part wear and alignment checks are crucial to maintaining peak machine performance, which in turn reduces waste like crumbs, poor slices and unused end pieces,” said Jeff Klein, field service manager, Grote Co., Columbus, OH. Excessive wear to blade pulleys and blade guides dull the blade edge or stress the weld. Preventive maintenance and inspections can keep this from happening.

“Paying attention to details is key for blade life and slice quality,” said Allen Wright, vice-president of sales, Hansaloy, Davenport, IA.“For instance, blade tension can often be overlooked. “Maintaining proper tension will promote blade life and lead to less wear on slicer components such as drums, blade guides, lattice, etc.”

Without proper tension, the blades in the machine will run at different speeds, putting more heat into one blade than the rest. That blade is now at risk of breaking before it’s time. Proper tension can also alert bakers if the slicer drums are not level. “If blade tension is consistent across the machine, you know your drums are level,” he said.

Hansaloy’s new digital tension gauge allows bakers to quickly and accurately measure tension on each individual blade. This can tell bakers when the tension is off before dealing damage to the blades. This attention to detail keeps the slicer cutting optimally.

At today’s throughput rates, slicers help bakers create that well-sliced loaf that is a part of consumers’ daily lives and vernacular. With attention to detail in blade choices and care, as well as maintenance and sanitation, bakers can keep up with demand and keep up their profits.
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