Dough Division: Dividers and Rounders

by Shane Whitaker
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Dough makeup systems, including extrusion and volumetric dividers as well as rounders, play a vital role in determining the final quality of bread loaves or packages of rolls or buns. Today, this equipment is more flexible allowing lines to make a greater variety of products, both in styles as well as sizes. They also are gentler in handling so they can accommodate highly hydrated doughs.

Equipment manufacturers also have responded to bakeries’ needs by making equipment that is easier to maintain and sanitize. Bakers want dividers that are reliable and offer accurate scaling and proper handling of dough, according to Mark Rosenberg, president of Gemini Bakery Equipment Co., Inc., Philadelphia, PA. “Some doughs can accommodate high compression and potential punishment, but others cannot,” he said. “Machines need to be able to handle both straight doughs and doughs with extended floor time.”

The ability to adjust the amount of compression in the dough box is critical to accurate scaling, while controlling the amount of compression manages dough punishment.

“The divider is the ‘cash register’ of the production line,” said Ron Mullins, corporate bakery accounts manager, Reiser, Canton, MA. “Good scaling weights and consistency are expected.”

Reiser’s Vemag divider can process more than 20,000 lb of dough per hour with 1% standard deviation in a single lane or multiple lanes, he said. “It is important to feed the rounding equipment with consistent dough weight and to space dough pieces to ensure that the machine will perform at its maximum. Otherwise, ‘doubles’ could occur, or line efficiencies could be lower,” Mr. Mullins added.

Reiser is in the process of adding checkweighers to the conveyor belts after its dividers to help further control accuracy. This system adjusts the divider automatically, removing control from a line operator, he said.

GREATER FLEXIBILITY.
Bakers are looking to create products that set them apart from the competition, according to Patricia Kennedy, president, WP Bakery Group USA/Kemper Bakery Systems, Shelton, CT, noting that the requirement for industrial lines is increasing. “Higher quality products, with longer resting periods, or softer doughs or special shapes are being requested more often in high-capacity operations,” she said. “It is important for these customers to process a higher quality product with the price advantage of industrial production.”

Ms. Kennedy observed that the most important qualities for a good divider are reliability, durability, industrial strength construction, excellent rounding/moulding quality and weight accuracy.

The divider is the backbone of any production bakery, according to Dan Wilzinski, president, Bakery Engineering/Winkler, Inc., Shelton, CT. “Scaling accuracy, perfectly rounded dough balls and consistent output all lead to better performance in downstream finishing operations,” he said. Mr. Wilzinski noted that the company’s Admiral roll divider is proven to maintain each of the aforementioned criteria better than any other high output divider on the market.

The volumetric roll divider can produce dough balls ranging from 1 to 7 oz with an output capacity of 55 strokes per minute. It is available in a 6-, 8-, 9- and 10-pocket configuration. “The Admiral is available in a hydraulic configuration that is ideal for dough requiring a more gentle touch, a stiff arm configuration for frozen product applications and the SB for extremely stiff dough like bagels,” Mr. Wilzinski said.

Dough weight flexibility is becoming more important, and most advances made in divider technology have been intended to give processors greater flexibility, according to Mr. Rosenberg. “The desire to make a more uniform product is requiring clients to produce rolls at much higher weight than previously needed,” he said. “A recent installation was for a client needing to produce a 12-in. sandwich roll at both 6 and 8.5 oz.”

Gemini enhances the adjustability of its dividers by increasing and decreasing their compression. The company also specializes in dimensional dividers that handle high-hydration dough or those with extended floor time, he added. “The dividers have been adapted to have more adjustability as well as weight flexibility,” he said.

The recently upgraded W/P TWS divider/rounder available from Gemini is able to process a much wider range of dough weights. “A recent installation required Gemini to deliver a 12/8-pocket combination divider and rounder that could accommodate running small dinner rolls weighing as little as 28 g (1 oz) at a rate of more than 500 pieces per minute but also had to produce a larger sandwich roll weighing almost 8 oz,” he said.

Adamatic dividers offer the most versatile scaling range on the market, according to Merle Cooper, Midwest regional sales manager, Adamatic (part of Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group), Auburn, WA. Products ranging from1 to 19 oz can be made on the same machine, and hydraulic dividing allows bakers to use less pressure for accurate scaling, he added.

ACCURACY MATTERS.
In the past, many lines were dedicated or limited to producing just a few products. Today’s producers of bread, hamburger buns and hard rolls are looking for versatility from their production lines, according to Mr. Mullins. “The Vemag divider with its positive-displacement double-screw system adds versatility,” he said. “The divider can process stiff hard roll and bread doughs as well as soft doughs. The divider can process doughs that result in either a tight or open crumb structure.”

The size of the auger in the Vemag dividers recently has been increased so the equipment is even gentler on the dough, Mr. Mullins noted. Its dividers are available in standard configurations featuring four, six or eight pockets for buns, and one through three lanes are typical for bread production. However, it can add even more lanes if needed for products such as tortillas.

Reiser offers a variety of dividers for bakeries of all sizes. Its Vemag V-500 is designed for smaller bakeries, while its largest divider is the HP 30E for high-output applications. The dividers can feature a movable Reiser Dough Flow attachment that can be manually moved in seconds to produce either a tight or open crumb structure, according to Mr. Mullins. Other easily changed attachments for Reiser’s dividers include servo, pneumatic and motorized cutting units as well as dripless valves.

The current surge in frozen pizza products has been a boon for Winkler, according to Mr. Wilzinski, because the Admiral is designed for the fast-growing personal pizza category. “In 2009, Winkler participated in the construction of one of the largest expansions in the pizza category,” he said. “Producing approximately 24,000 pizzas per hour, the Admiral line deposits 64 proofed dough balls to four pans simultaneously. The line runs continually 6.5 days per week. The demands for scaling accuracy are some of the tightest ever achieved in a production bakery.”

Cost of ownership and equipment longevity are key factors bakers must take into consideration when purchasing a new divider, according to Mr. Wilzinski. “With its roots firmly planted in the German attention to quality, reliability and ingenuity, the Winkler Admiral is ‘overbuilt’ by many people’s standards,” he said. “Yet, this is a quality that our customers appreciate when they experience the incredible uptime performance and a very low cost of ownership.”

Mr. Wilzinski also pointed out that the Admiral divider is now built in the US so parts and firsthand technical support are local to the North American market. “Being made here in the United States is an important development for our customers,” he noted. “The US has been and is the largest market for Winkler worldwide and as such having manufacturing and development local is a huge advantage.”

Adamatic dividers also are manufactured in the US, and many parts can be purchased locally, noted Mr. Cooper. The heavy-duty dividers are built to last under the harsh conditions at 24/7 bakeries, he added.

Kemper offers the Soft Star Plus divider/rounder, with an hourly capacity of up to 30,000 pieces in 10 rows. It features a servo direct drive, which eliminates the need for chains that must be lubricated and lose tension over time. Also, the servo motor offers a more reliable transfer of power and greater control over speeds. “With this system, the capacity of the head machine can be reduced to 10%, for example, a 6-row machine that makes 1,800 to 18,000 pieces per hour,” Ms. Kennedy said. “This gives the machine enormous flexibility with a very robust drive system.”

The heart of the Soft Star Plus dividing system reduces compression of the dough pieces to an absolute minimum, giving a greater product volume, according to Ms. Kennedy. “Less compression also leads to more accurate weights because there are no compacted points in the dough,” she said.

Additionally, the surface of the dough is less moist because the water is not pressed out. “This allows the machine to process softer doughs with high weight accuracy,” Ms Kennedy added.

The surface of the measuring piston in the Soft Star Plus can be lightly oiled before it comes in contact with the dough to ensure that softer, stickier doughs are released from the measuring piston after being divided.

This high-capacity industrial divider/rounder features separate dividing and rounding/moulding. “On the rounding/moulding system we use a specially woven plastic belt (not cotton) because this has the flexibility of cotton, where we can adjust the pressure on the dough piece for each type of dough, yet does not have cotton’s hygiene disadvantages,” Ms. Kennedy said.

Rounders for rolls can adapt to the dough consistency and weight to produce a uniform product time after time, she added. This is more important for rolls than bread because rolls, being smaller, have a higher ratio of surface to crumb than bread. In other words, bad moulding affects proportionately more of the roll, and correction during downstream operations is difficult. “If you start off with a badly moulded product at the beginning of the process, you will not be able to get a good product at the end,” she said.

AMF Bakery Systems’ extrusion bun/roll dividers are available in a variety of models to meet specific bread and bun/roll production requirements. The Richmond, VA-based company’s dividers provide very precise scaling accuracy, eliminate costly divider oil and the sanitation costs associated with it, reduce maintenance and increase product yield, according to Larry Gore, director of product marketing, AMF. The suppler will show new bread and roll dividers and rounders at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas, NV, this fall, he said.

“AMF offers single, dual and triple port models of extrusion bread dividers to meet different pan bread production requirements up to 300 loaves per minute,” he noted.

The OEM also has added servo controls to allow speed ranges to be expanded and scaling accuracy to be further improved. “In many cases, the proper use of servos has dropped the cost of manufacturing and even the maintenance costs for the baker,” Mr. Gore stated.

WELL ROUNDED.
In addition, AMF offers Accupan bun/roll systems that are complete makeup lines, including the divider, rounder, intermediate proofer and sheeter/moulder/panner all in one integrated system. Accupan is available to produce soft bun/roll volumes from 1,000 to 5,000 dozen per hour.

In response to the elimination of divider oil, AMF redesigned its ultra-high molecular-weight plastic rounder bars with a spiral tunnel design that eliminates sticking in the rounding process. “We have recently added a Teflon-coated aluminum version of the spiral tunnel rounder bar for our bun and roll applications that has significantly extended the useful life of the rounder bar while further improving product release from the rounder bar,” Mr. Gore noted.

A rounder shapes the dough piece in the most uniform manner as possible, according to Mr. Rosenberg. “However, different products require different degrees of rounding,” he said. “A finished round roll or boule may want a tight inner structure and a very uniform shape. Dough balls needed for pizza and tortillas require a very well rounded and shaped dough piece with a very small seam.”

Scaling and rounding are equally important, according to Mr. Wilzinski. “A tightly rounded and constantly formed dough ball assures a better more consistent finished product and reduced waste in downstream finishing operations,” he said. “Superior rounding from the Admiral is achieved through our elliptical rounding feature.”

The Admiral’s drive system rounds each dough ball on an elliptical path and at varying speeds. “This best replicates the hand-crafted result but at incredible output levels,” he said.

Dough dividing and shaping plays an important role in the production of many bakery products. These makeup systems help to control weights so bakeries are not giving away product, and they help to ensure the quality of the final baked food. OEMs today are making their equipment with greater flexibility so that bakeries can make more products on a single line, and the machines are able to handle a wide variety of doughs from stiff to highly hydrated. ◾

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