Pretzel and extruded snack manufacturers face a special challenge because they are producing thin products that depend on volumetric sizing, meaning the individual pieces are sized by dough volume and not dough weight, according to Jim Warren, director, Exact Mixing, Reading Bakery Systems, Robesonia, PA. This means changes in product density due to batch mixing variations or mixing cycle time will result in changes in piece weights. This also alters the amount of moisture in the oven.

Lighter products often burn in the oven, while pieces that are too heavy are not dried properly. This effect is made worse when varying piece weights change the moisture in the oven,” Mr. Warren said. “The oven is continually attempting to adjust to the new moisture level but never seems to catch the moving target.”

With continuous mixing, he added, all dough is the same age when reaching the extruders, and that allows the volumetric extruding process to consistently produce pieces of the same weight. “This keeps the oven moisture in balance and results in much more consistent finished product. Improvements can be seen in both bake consistency and appearance,” Mr. Warren said.

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