Bars can be tricky to form and process through equipment. Doughs containing a large amount of protein can be particularly challenging. Inclusions can be tough to cut without damaging their visual presence. Forming equipment needs to handle these tough doughs while maintaining product quality and avoiding getting bogged down in sticky binders.
Nutrition bars developed for athletes and those looking for something filling are often packed with protein.
“Our machines include 316 stainless steel construction that can withstand strong cleaning chemicals, specialized sanitary bolts and servo controls with strong gearing that can handle the hard doughs and high levels of protein bar manufacturers are using in their products,” Mr. Knox said.
In contrast, other doughs must be handled gently to get valuable inclusions through production intact. Bars are sold not only by colorful packaging but also by their visual appeal, of which inclusions are a major part. To ensure they survive forming, Reiser developed infeed systems that treat these products more gently.
Roll gaps can be especially difficult for these doughs to manage.
“To handle larger pieces, careful consideration is given to minimizing the number and optimizing the size of any roll gaps or other restrictions that the product mass has to pass through during the forming process,” Mr. Graham said. Baker Perkins’ TruClean Wirecut system only has one roll gap — sized for the largest inclusion — to negotiate.
Inclusions aren’t limited to nut and granola bars. Clextral developed technology to add visible inclusions to filled bars to reap some of those health and quality benefits.
“For example, a health bar may have vegetable inclusions such as carrots or beets,” said Justin Montgomery, sales manager, U.S. and Canada, Clextral, Inc. “Inclusions from soy and pulse ingredients are another option to add protein and a crunchy texture. These inclusions can be made in a variety of sizes, colors and densities to appeal to various market segments.”
The tricky moment, however, comes when these bars are cut. Guillotines often crush and break inclusions, stealing from their visual luster.
“Over the past several years we’ve had people asking for larger particulates to be able to give their customers a better quality product,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales, Rheon USA. “When consumers can actually see a large chip or a large piece of a nut or a whole nut, the perception is it’s a much higher quality product.”
That quality perception is lost if a nut or chip is crushed or cut too small.
At the 2016 International Baking Industry Expo, Rheon introduced an ultrasonic guillotine to ensure a clean square cut without crushing any inclusions.
After navigating the forming system on the TruClean Wirecut from Baker Perkins, a freshly formed bar moves to a die system designed to avoid damaging the product and to provide a natural looking cut with a guillotine rather than slitting.
The ends of bars, regardless of the type, can reveal quality or carelessness. While guillotines maintain squared-off ends of inclusion-heavy bars, the filled varieties require a different method.
“Customers are making filled bars that aren’t necessarily doing a squared off end,” Mr. Giacoio said.
Rheon uses its standard cutter, referred to as a shutter, to wrap the outer material around the filling.
Clextral continues to develop its Pinching Former to close the ends of filled bars and handle a wide variety of product sizes and degrees of filling.