Promoting airflow in proofers

by Charlotte Atchley
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Creating a desirable environment through controlled temperature and humidity is critical to achieving the right proof, but consistent air flow ensures that the environment stays constant through every inch of the proofer.

“Air circulation must be uniform,” said Dennis Kauffman, director of baking systems, AMF Bakery Systems. “No cold corners or outside edges are allowed.” AMF’s proofers deliver this with product-specific tier spacing for proper air flow at 20 air changes per hour. Proofer design, air ducts, exhaust systems all help deliver that precise temperature and humidity throughout the enclosed space.

“The climatization unit is of great importance, but the correct air flow has an even greater impact,” said Henk Hoppenbrouwers, general sales manager, Tromp Group. “If we’re talking about individual products, the air flow within the proofer is of major importance to create an even climate of humidity and temperature between all levels of this belt proofer.” To facilitate this air movement, Tromp Group designs air ducts to suit the type and size of the proofer. This creates the proper laminar blanket of air flowing through the proofer.

G&F Systems enlisted the help of Air Management Technology, Inc., to design air movement within its proofers to mimic natural air flow tendencies. “Typically, hot air is supplied at a low point, just below the spiral in-feed height, and returned over the top of the spiral at ceiling level,” said Anthony Salsone, sales engineer, G&F Systems. “Properly engineered air exchanges are built into the system to decrease stratification potential.”

Exhaust systems also promote a quicker climate control response. “Through the use of new technology, temperature and humidity within the proofing chambers can be brought down and restored much more effectively than in the past,” said Alex Kuperman, president, ABI. Introducing variable speed air flow controls has been critical to ABI’s efforts to prevent air stratification.

Variable frequency drives on fans can provide easy air flow adjustment and reduce energy waste, according to Mr. Salsone. Rapid purge fans also help remove hot air from the enclosure to give maintenance personnel safe access to the inside of the proofer.

Not only does proper air distribution ensure products have a consistent environment to travel through, but it can also aid in delivering the desired product characteristics. Some baked goods require a secondary cooling zone to stiffen their structure before transfers. JBT directs air up through the spiral proofer’s belt to dry the product’s underside. This sets the product and enables transfers without product damage.

In proofing, a carefully engineered airflow pattern can be a powerful tool in achieving consistency and desired characteristics when used alongside automated humidity and temperature control. With this toolbox, bakers can get the proper proof — the perfect proof — for a variety of products.
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