Several years ago, cookies set the bar for lumpy, bumpy doughs, challenging equipment engineers to adapt wire-cut depositors to the new reality. “For products [sold in] count packages like trays, piece weight accuracy is critical,” said David Kuipers, vice-president, sales and marketing, Reading Bakery Systems. Robesonia, PA. And even those offered in bag-in-box and bulk packs require this care to ensure good band loading and color uniformity.

Larger feed rolls configured with wider feed-roll gaps are necessary. So are new designs for filler blocks to assist handling of cookie doughs containing ever-bigger particulates, according to Mr. Kuipers. The block controls dough flow from the gap between the rolls to the die itself.

“For sanitation, we removed all the drive and cutting mechanism from beneath the cutting area,” Mr. Kuipers said. “And we made it easy to remove the die and filler block from the side of the machine for cleaning and product changeover.”

But dough conditions also forced changes in the wire-cut’s harps, frames and die inserts. “Design of the frames was adapted to avoid wire breakage,” said Sam Pallottini, die product sales manager, Baker Perkins, Grand Rapids, MI. Many bakers use larger-diameter wires and thicker cut-off knives with such doughs. “This places stress on the harp that holds the wires in place as they move across the dies. We hardened the fingers that hold the wires to stand up to the additional stress.”

Greater use of inclusions also prompted changes in the wire-cut’s dies and cutters. Rick Parrish, director of sales and marketing, Franz Haas Machinery of America, Inc., Richmond, VA, described a “cigar cutter” device mounted on the V60 depositor. It uses two servo-driven cutting plates directly above and below each other. “These die plates make it possible to produce wire-cut products with a variety of inclusions,” he said.

Unifiller took a different route to cutting such doughs with its Dopositor. “Inclusions like chocolate chunks or nuts require a different cut-off mechanism than the traditional wire-cut tool,” said Stewart Macpherson, vice-president, sales and marketing, Unifiller Systems, Delta, BC. The company put a titanium blade to work instead. “This blade moves at very high speed and ‘cuts’ the chocolate chunk or nut cleanly through, even in soft cookie doughs.”

The trend to higher and higher levels of inclusions in cookies impacts design of rotary systems, too, although Mr. Pallottini characterized this as “not so much a change as an adaptation.”