Many bread and bun bakeries today bake a wide variety of products. Artisan style breads and rolls are much more commonplace, and even high-speed bakeries that perhaps at one time produced the same product all day long are making several different varieties of buns and rolls on a single production line.
“Fifteen years ago, most new high-speed bun/roll lines were designed to only make fast-food buns, typically 2- to 3-oz products,” said Larry Gore, director of marketing and international sales, AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, VA.“Now, new lines are required to make soft buns from ¾ oz up to 7 oz and also many products like specialty rolls and bread sticks. Thus the equipment has to be more flexible.”
Koichi Ikoma, national sales director, Rheon USA, Irvine, CA, agreed that bakers require dough makeup equipment that can handle any requirement. “In the past, customers were satisfied with simple dividing and rounding of dough to mould products such as baguettes, but now customers demand better stability and shape consistency, while expecting higher capacity and speed for more accurate results,” he said.
Bakers also want to produce a wide range of sizes from small products to 1.5-lb products, Mr. Ikoma added. “Customers place more importance on quality, for example dough needing long fermentation such as scones, but require equipment that can produce any type of bread,” he explained.
Many more bakeries are working with highly hydrated artisan doughs with long bulk fermentation, and equipment manufacturers have responded by offering equipment that is able to process these products with more automation and at higher speeds. “One of the biggest advancements by the WP Bakery Group has been our ability to handle soft dough,” said Michael Eggebrecht, baker and equipment consultant for WP Bakery Group, which is a subsidiary of Kemper Bakery Systems, Shelton, CT.
Processors want dividers that offer sophisticated weight control mechanisms with accuracies of ±2 g, said Robin Mirza, Adamatic engineering manager, Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group, Auburn, WA. “Saving even a gram, when production rates are in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 pieces per hour, can result in substantial increase in profits,” he explained.
WP Haton, part of the WP Bakery Group, has taken its traditional volumetric divider and added its Voluminator, which gives the baker the ability to adjust the pressure on the main piston as well as control the extrusion or back pressure on the dough, according to Mr. Eggebrecht. “The result is that now we can offer a divider that has the trustworthy operation of a traditional divider along with high weight accuracy in conjunction with dough-friendly technology,” he added.
For a number of years, AMF has replaced conventional volumetric dividers with extrusion dividers that improve product quality through better dough consistency, enhanced scaling accuracy and eliminated divider lubrication oil, according to Mr. Gore. “Recently we have added servo controls that allow speed ranges to be expanded, further improving scaling accuracy,” he said. “In many cases, the proper use of servos has dropped the cost of manufacturing and even the maintenance costs for the baker.”
Reiser, Canton, MA, can assist bread, bun and hard roll bakeries looking for flexibility on their production lines, according to Ron Mullins, corporate bakery accounts manager for the company.“TheVemag 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. It can also process doughs that result in either a tight or open crumb structure.”
Mr. Mullins called the divider the “cash register”of the production line, and he pointed out that good scaling weights and consistency are expected. “The Vemag divider can process more than 20,000 lb of dough per hour with good scaling weights — 1% standard deviation on a single lane or multiple lanes,” he said. “It is important to feed the rounding equipment with consistent weight and shapes of dough pieces to ensure that it will perform at its maximum. Otherwise ‘doubles’ could occur or line efficiencies could be lower.”
Weight control is always important, according to Mark Rosenberg, president of Gemini Bakery Equipment Co., Philadelphia, PA. “We normally target for scaling accuracy if ±1.5 g dependent upon the dough type, but today clients also want to produce a higher quality product so equipment that is less punishing is also on our clients’ wish lists,” he said.
Benier, which is available in the US from Kaak Group North America, Lithia Springs,GA,has developed a divider that applies the proper amount of stress to get good oven development, according to Bob Marraccini, vice-president, Kaak Group North America. The Benier Dough Master divider can run very stiff to 90% hydrated doughs. “As we all know, the more open interior you need, the worse the scaling weight gets,” he said. “For this reason, Benier developed the Dough Related Software (DRS), and with DRS, in combination with our checkweigher, you can set the weight plus and minus and be as accurate as you would like.”
By controlling of the stress in the dough, various dough consistencies are precisely processed within a bakery’s quality standard and desired line efficiency, according to Mr. Marraccini. “If production allows, you can run the divider to the right and to the left. This would allow you to run standard bread through a traditional bread system and then run the divider the other direction to feed a stress-free line,” he explained.“DRS manages the divider settings so even very delicate dough with long fermentation time and high water content is being produced as gentle as by hand.”
The Dough Master is available with two to 12 pockets and a maximum speed of 35 strokes per minute, which means it can produce up to 420 pieces of dough per minute. More baking companies are consolidating plants and increasing pounds per man hour, and a contributing factor to this increase is the capability of the makeup equipment to run efficiently at higher output rates, according to Mr. Gore. “This is accomplished in two ways at the divider and rounder — higher cycle rates and higher output per cycle,” he said. “AMF has addressed both by increasing cycle rates with innovative cut-off designs and servo drives at the divider and more efficient rounding bar designs at the rounder, and by offering higher output per cycle by offering eight pieces per cycle versus four or six in the case of bun/roll production. While top-end speed has not changed much over the past few years, the efficiency at these top speeds has.”
AMF’s extrusion bread dividers offer very precise scaling accuracy, elimination of costly divider oil and the sanitation costs associated with it, reduced maintenance and increased product yield, and they are designed for the larger scaling requirements, according to Mr. Gore. “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.
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 belt rounder bars with a UHMW plastic spiral tunnel design that eliminates sticking in the rounding process. “We have recently added a Tefloncoated 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.
There is a growing trend for bakeries to produce smaller gourmet dinner and sandwich rolls, according to Mr. Rosenberg. As such, processors want to increase productivity of these smaller weights so they can produce a similar pounds per hour as when producing more traditional sandwich rolls, he said. The Gemini/Werner & Pfleiderer TWS roll dividers and rounders are usually sold as 6- and 8-pocket machines but are now being produced as 10- and 12-pocket units to increase productivity to approximately 500 rolls per minute, he said.
Fritsch, Cedar Grove, NJ, has developed a new high-capacity rounder deigned for softer, prefermented doughs. It is capable of processing 35,000 pieces per hour at 70 g, according to Josef Hoos, senior manager , technical and projects at Fritsch. Fritsch divides dough via sheeting and cutting, and Mr. Hoos said, “That process provides the highest flexibility in weight and shape.”
Flexibility, versatility, accuracy and greater speeds are all qualities bakers look for in dough makeup systems. Suppliers have responded by offering equipment that can offer all these qualities, while working with highly hydrated artisan-style doughs that many companies are using to expand their product lineups.