Bakers need to consider a batter’s porosity, viscosity and specific gravity in the decision-making process.
Servo-driven precision

When it comes to cake depositing, many bakers demand that versatile systems adapt to their extensive product portfolios. Moreover, many foodservice establishments constantly tweak their menus while retail and in-store bakery customers often request ongoing seasonal desserts and limited-time offerings to drive impulse sales.

“With our complete line of depositing equipment, we offer multi-layer as well as multi-flavor product depositors,” Mr. Cummings said. “We also offer injection depositing to allow a cake within a cake or filling within a muffin or cupcake. Tromp Group also offers depositing equipment for decorating cupcakes with both the icing and the sprinkles at very high speeds.”

Hinds-Bock relies on servo motors to drive both pistons and rotary-product valves in the head of the depositor. “This method is much quieter than a traditional air-powered depositor and more efficient because it uses less air or no air at all,” Mr. Gregg observed. “Using a servo-motor-controlled machine also allows it to gently lay the batter in the pan in a much more controlled, precise manner.”

Likewise, several Unifiller depositors combine servo motors with computer controls. “This means that the operator can select the product by name from a pre-configured menu using the touchscreen interface, where deposit speed, volume and spreading patterns are saved to the PLC,” Mr. Macpherson said.

Such advances in technology allow bakers to maintain other critical factors on the production line. “At Axis, we use servo-driven systems to achieve pinpoint accuracy when adjusting heights, strokes and shut-off speeds,” Mr. Anderson said.

Handtmann also uses servo drives to gently transfer and deposit cakes, muffins or brownie batters without changing the specific gravity. They also ensure better weight accuracy. Mr. Zelaya said a mobile version of its wash-down depositors allows them to be transported to a sanitation room.

Unifiller recently developed applications for dry or semi-wet chunky foods using new product metering technology. Additionally, Mr. Macpherson said, infrared hopper level sensors are used with its hopper topper product transfer pumps, and product vision sensors can determine the position of randomly placed products. They also can guide and control robotic depositing. Moreover, automatic checkweighing systems can enable depositors to self-adjust volume if needed.

For the most precise control, Reiser developed new double-screw metering technology, then adapted its vacuum and infeed systems to optimize weight control while maintaining product integrity. “We are also working on the cutting edge of material technology to reduce product adhesion and clean-up,” Mr. McIsaac said.

When investing in automation, depositing requires a balance of flexibility and accuracy — and a thorough attention that matches the old manual operation. “With quick changeover tooling and maximum adjustability to accept a wide variety of pans — coupled with improved sanitary design — automating depositing becomes a cost-effective solution,” Mr. Anderson concluded.