Lifespan and maintenance must be considered when choosing a mixer. “Maintainability and reliability are also of great importance with today’s production requirements,” said Alain Lemieux, director of engineering,  dough processing, AMF Bakery Systems. “Longer maintenance intervals and shorter downtimes force the manufacturers to use better materials, designs and parts.”

Overdesign is an important factor in this regard, as bakers should consider the service factor, or the standard to which an aspect of the equipment, such as the load requirement of the bearing, should be designed. “Those are the sorts of things we look at when making a piece of equipment able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Terry Bartsch, vice-president, sales, Shaffer, a Bundy Baking Solution.

Wear parts like bearings, seals and bushings affect the overall life of a mixer, especially in terms of abrasion and general wear-and-tear. “Because those parts are smaller, the dimensions are more critical, and they’re literally tighter together,” explained Jim Warren, vice-president, Exact Mixing, Reading Bakery Systems. “Say if you have a little gap in the seal. If you get just a little dough in there, it can do damage.”

These parts need to be replaced from time to time, so it’s critical that the right size and strength are included in the overall design to obtain the optimal life with the least amount of repair. “Many parts are designed to be durable enough to stand up to most doughs. But the life of wear parts could be reduced if you’re making a more abrasive dough,” Mr. Warren cautioned.

When considering the longevity of a mixer, take a critical look at its foundation, or footing, especially when it must mix huge batches of dough. “The foundation acts as a counterweight for the mixer,” Mr. Bartsch said. “Where is all that energy going?” he asked. “It’s being transmitted into the frame and into the floor.” He warned that without sturdy footings and mounts, issues could arise with the bakery floor such as cracking.

Oshikiri also places a heavy — pardon the pun — emphasis on the base plate. “The columns that are welded to that base plate are very thick,” said Tim McCalip, general manager, Oshikiri. “That way, you don’t have motion, and you don’t have breaking and cracking over time.” The heavy base plate and thick columns, he said, help to avoid metal fatigue.