Tortillas and related products such as taco shells and tortilla chips come in many sizes and varieties, and the processing equipment used to manufacture these products can vary as much as the foods they produce.

Tortilla processors such as The Hain Celestial Group, Lake Success, NY, continue to innovate like its blue corn tortilla chips with chia seeds under its Garden of Eatin’ brand. Also, one of the hottest foodservice items introduced last year was Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell restaurants. The Nacho Cheese seasoned taco shells were so popular the company introduced a Cool Ranch variety earlier this year.

Accordingly, tortilla manufacturing companies continue to search out new systems that will give them greater accuracy, higher throughputs, easier sanitation and lower maintenance costs.

Complete flour tortilla makeup lines

AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, VA, now offers divider/rounder and intermediate proofer systems for 8-, 9- and 10-across tortilla lines. The company is also working on a 12-pocket divider as press sizes continue to increase, noted Bruce Campbell, the company’s vice-president, dough processing technologies. The line begins with either the HDD extrusion divider, which typically is used for buns but has been slightly modified for tortillas, or the recently introduced DoFlex technology that is especially helpful on stiffer tortilla doughs.

AMF’s special tortilla rounding bars have an adjustable camber that easily dials in for various tortilla sizes to form tight, round dough balls. The company also incorporates automatic checkweighers at the intermediate proofer. “This data allows for throughput analysis for lines that are really focused on consistency and cost controls, and the best way to do that is to weigh every single dough ball and retain that data,” Mr. Campbell said.

 (800) 225-3771•

Easily adjustable tortilla press

The TP-52 Genesis Quad Press from Casa Herrera, Pomona, CA, is a 52-in. by 52-in. flour tortilla press with flat platen surfaces for round, even-sized tortillas. Professional engineers extensively analyzed its stress and deflection to ensure the design would minimize these for flat platen surfaces. Hydraulic controls allow operators to adjust each of the press’ four cylinders by 5/1,000ths of an inch while the press is in operation.

The company uses a programmable automation controller (PAC), which combines the features and capabilities of a PC-based control system with that of a typical PLC. The PAC can scan the complete production line in milliseconds while monitoring more than 100 critical points on the line during production.

(800) 624-3916 •

Continuous tortilla forming and frying

Since Heat and Control, Hayward, CA, patented its TacoForm continuous tortilla forming and frying system for taco shells in 1985, the company has continued to develop variations of the fryer for other corn tortilla products such as tostadas and specially shaped fried tortillas. These fryers continuously form and fry large capacities of consistent tortilla products to meet consumer demand for creative new foods, according to Caleb Reyes, regional sales manager for processing systems. Heat and Control’s TacoForm fryers are part of complete systems that include sheeters, toaster ovens, conditioning conveyors and, if needed, finished product alignment, inspection and packaging equipment.

(800)227-5980 •

Masa sheeter with thickness control

JC Ford’s Automatic Thickness Control (ATC) system features masa scanning laser sensors to monitor and record the sheet’s thickness throughout operations. As the data is processed, servo motors automatically adjust the rollers, said Kyle Armstrong, sales manager at the La Habra, CA-based company. “Increasing ingredient costs have created an even greater demand to hold tighter tolerances and maintain product weights,” he observed. “The system’s servo motors coupled with heavy-duty gear boxes and eccentric roller positioning maintain masa thickness up to 5/10,000ths of an inch.”

Overshooting target product weight by just 0.5 g per tortilla on a line producing 6,000 doz per hour and running 16 hours a day, six days a week would cost approximately $100,000 per year, Mr. Armstrong estimated “To help businesses control their overages,” he said, “we enhanced our corn tortilla and tortilla chip sheeters to offer increased roller integrity. Our patented ATC system with eccentric roller positioning will help maintain product weights and eliminate operator interaction.”

(714) 871-7361•

Gentle, accurate divider/rounder

Rex Industry III AW (accurate weight) divider/rounders from Koenig Bakery Systems, Ashland, VA, offer ±1% weight tolerance for 100% of the production rate. The 8-row machines produce dough balls for flour tortillas as small as ¾ oz (22 g) at hourly capacities up to 19,200 pieces at 40 strokes per minute. Manually changeable dividing ledges enable changing the weight range. Storage compartments for the ledges are integrated into the machine.

The enlarged rounding units permit a long and gentle rounding process for optimum product quality. The transfer belt between the dividing and rounding drums can be folded up on both sides so it can be cleaned and maintained. Large stainless steel area doors also can be unhinged for simple sanitation and maintenance access.

(804) 798-7983 •

Compact triple sheeter

Designed for high-capacity die-cut tortilla lines running at speeds of up to 200 ft per minute, the Libra triple sheeter from Moline Machinery, Duluth, MN, provides dough reduction in a compact, efficient format. It features three sets of solid stainless steel rollers and two intermediate transition rollers. The opening gap for each roller set can be easily adjusted during production for efficient and controlled reduction. Individual roller scrapers include clamp retention for improved control and easy sanitation.

The knife-edge infeed transfer is designed for smooth transition between infeed conveyor and sheeter. The triple sheeter’s easy-to-use touchscreen operator interface contains a “cascade” control logarithm that simplifies product changeovers.

(800) 767-5734 •

Flexible, high-speed sheeting

Sheeted tortilla and wrap lines from Rademaker USA, Hudson, OH, are designed to produce a wide range of tortillas, lavash, pita and pocket bread at high speeds and efficiencies. “Our tortilla/wrap lines are flexible in the products they can produce, efficient, and available in working widths up to a 1,600mm (63 in.) and at speeds in excess of 120 ft per minute,” said Eric Riggle, the company’s vice-president.

Rademaker lines can feed tortilla-style ovens or high-temperature tunnel ovens and can be further integrated with a Rademaker In-Line proofing system. Mr. Riggle pointed out that the equipment is built to the highest standards in hygiene and easy to maintain.

(330) 650-2345 •

Versatile dough dividing

Vemag HP-E Series dough dividers from Reiser, Canton, MA, features the latest in servo technology to offer bakers the high levels of portioning accuracy, production efficiency, versatility and product quality. “Our dividers can handle dough with an extreme range of absorption and viscosities,” said John McIsaac, the company’s vice-president, strategic business development. “Our unique double-screw portioning system can handle the dough gently with extreme weight accuracy.”

The stainless steel-constructed HP-E has been designed for high levels of hygiene. The dough divider’s smooth surfaces prevent accumulation of product residues, and its tilt hopper is easy to open and sanitize. In addition, the double screws can be quickly removed for cleaning.

(781) 821-1290 •