A few common memes exist in the baking industry, principles bakers try to live by and that suppliers try to enable them to meet. Consistency in quality is a big one, and one that will lose sales if not met. Accuracy is an idea that, if not achieved, will lose bakers money right on the production line.
“Smart bakers understand that their divider is the key piece in controlling raw ingredient costs,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser. “We refer to the dough divider as the ‘cash register’ of the line.”
Without an accurate divider, bakers can easily fall into the trap of over- or under-selling their product.
“Accuracy is very important to meet regulatory requirements with respect to sell weight of the product,” said Ken Johnson, president, Gemini Bakery Equipment Co. “A high weight variance from a divider would require a higher target weight during manufacture to keep from falling below the minimum weight declared on the package. This results in more giveaway and higher product costs.”
Instead of over-correcting to avoid a regulatory issue, a more accurate divider can provide bakers with a properly weighed product every time.
“When a line is dialed in to a specific weight, the settings of proofing, baking, cooling, slicing and bagging are all dependent on having a uniform size and shape of product,” said Bruce Campbell, vice-president, AMF Bakery Systems.
Servo-driven technology, gentler equipment and the implementation of data are helping bakers achieve more accurate portioning of bread products than ever before.
Improved equipment design, mechanical control and new construction materials have improved makeup and dividing technology over the years. “Choosing the right divider head and matching rounding drums is critical for accuracy and quality of rounding,” Mr. Johnson said. “Equally important is the dough feeding system.” Even distribution of the dough into the divider pistons aids in dividing precisely. The weight and size of the dough chunk being delivered to the divider hopper affect that even distribution.
Inside the volumetric measuring chamber, Gemini’s degassing piston design improves weight accuracy by removing gas pockets. The adjustable hydraulic pressure on the ram allows technicians to maximize weight accuracy while at the same time minimizing dough punishment.
Reiser’s Vemag divider’s accuracy comes from its double-screw transport system, technology that ensures accurate scaling while maintaining product quality. To further improve dough quality, Reiser’s latest advancement features larger pockets in the double-screw as the dough travels through it. Their greater size means the dough moves at slower speeds while delivering the same output. “This results in less work on the dough and less wear-and-tear on the machinery,” Mr. McIsaac said.
To handle stiff bagel doughs, ABI found that combining a rotary knife divider with a dough pre-feeding system helped achieve precise dividing where conventional dividers may have struggled.
Being able to divide precisely over a wide range of products also can be useful. Handtmann’s VF 600 B uses the company’s adjustable vane-cell design to carry precision across all manner of breads, gluten-free baked products, bars, cookies, snacks and thinly sheeted doughs. The vane cell delivers such precision because exact volumetric measurement controls the blade, wire or knife.
Koenig’s Industrie Rex AW achieves accuracy across a wide range of dough consistencies with even pusher pressure that can be automatically adjusted by software. The process features stop-and-go operation: The dough is portioned into the drum that remains still while its being filled, resulting in a higher weight accuracy.
Dividers from WP Kemper, WP, WP Haton and Winkler feature precise weight accuracy, and specifically the WP Kemper Softstar features a specially designed mouthpiece and ability to stop the measuring drum during the dividing process to maintain precision. These divider brands also use servo-driven technology to adjust machine operation to dough characteristics.
Servo technology offers bakers more control over portioning. More control leads to greater accuracy as well as increased flexibility. “The most precise portioning occurs with independent servo control of both the filling and the cutting functions,” said Cesar Zelaya, Handtmann. Servos give intelligent control of the equipment down to the gram and millisecond.
“By using our servo motors, operators can control the speed of the metering pump and the trimming valves for proper scaling, while the pressure switch maintains the density of the dough before being fed into the intake of the metering pump,” said Augusto Florindez, founder of Emico, now owned by Stewart Systems.
Emico’s divider uses an auger to create constant pressure on the dough before it goes into the metering pump and the manifold. A butterfly dough trimming valve in each port ensures proper scaling, Mr. Florindez said. The servo motor integrated with the knife driver offers that precise control at the end of the dividing process.