Checkweighers can ensure divider accuracy by checking on weights and sending the data back to the divider for automatic adjustment.

With so much information at our fingertips in all other aspects of our lives, it’s no surprise that information technology is making an impact in the plant, too. Equipment can provide bakers with real-time data to automatically adjust itself to fluctuations or prompt operators to change settings.

“The newest generation of V4 dividers is configured with load cells in the conveyor itself,” said John Giacoio, national sales director, Rheon USA. “When the desired weight is achieved, a guillotine comes down right after those load cells and cuts the dough. In our newest systems, we have a weight checking device, so it checks itself to see how accurate it was.”

Koenig integrates a checkweigher ahead of the guillotine of its Menes dough sheeting line to monitor the weight accuracy of all products. Cutting point is detected based on the weight reported by the checkweigher. The system can also modify the cutting position after calculating corrections.

Checkweighers installed after the divider can send data back to the machine, allowing the divider to adjust its operation for the next dough pieces, thus ensuring they are on target. That data can be reported in real time, show trends and be used to improve yield.

“Portion weights can be affected by a number of variables, including changes in the dough, product temperature, density and even machine wear,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser. Reiser’s Vemag Process Check checkweigher communicates with the dough divider to compensate for any of these variables without operator intervention. Bakers can also include a reject system to automatically remove dough pieces that don’t meet the weight targets.

Creating a feedback loop between checkweigher and divider enables the equipment to make corrections automatically and with the utmost precision. “Weight adjustment via program control and a protocol for each machine module help in keeping consistent production and aid in finding problem areas if mistakes are made,” said Patricia Kennedy, president, WP Bakery Group USA.

Gemini Bakery Equipment offers servo weight control with a feedback loop to a dough ball checkweigher. The company’s menu-driven control systems allow bakers to profile individual dough types and products.

ABI’s system combines inline checkweighing, algorithms and SCADA to gather information on weights and enable the divider to self-adjust in real time.

AMF’s new line of Flex dividers ensures weight accuracy is continually consistent without operator intervention. The dividers feature a low-pressure environment controlled by a precise pressure transducer and recipe management. Pressure monitoring governs the auger speed and gives AMF the automatic adjustment needed to deliver precise flow rates despite changing dough conditions.

Kaak Group’s Benier Checkweigher Dough Controller not only weighs dough pieces and sends that data back to the divider to automatically adjust, but it also can store settings to optimize piston performance and accuracy. When the settings have been established, operators can store those parameters in the controller. With a touch of a button, the Dough Master automatically adjusts to those settings. Benier’s data management can also provide bakers with reports on individual piston performances, granting the ability to fine-tune dividing down to the individual piston.

Measuring and tracking data gives bakers power over the process. “Data management helps effectively reduce cost pressures with automatic weight control and automatically controls the dividing processes even with the most complex and dynamic doughs,” said Cesar Zelaya, Handtmann. Handtmann’s Networking 4.0 HCU software monitors key production functions so that divider performance can be optimized. It also provides operators with a continuous production overview and a comprehensive production planning tool.

Baker Perkins records data about pressure and parameters for individual dough pieces, allowing the system to show historical trends even on a shift-by-shift basis. “If you’re having divider stoppages, there’s enough data for you to understand why that might be,” said Rob Francis, chief bakery engineer, Baker Perkins. “You’ve got all the historical data for plant efficiency purposes.”

Looking at the data surrounding a scaling problem can be instrumental in revealing the root cause. “We have seen clear data that shows the same divider running 0.5% accuracy on day shifts but 2% on night shifts,” said Bruce Campbell, vice-president, AMF Bakery Systems. “We went in, did training for the night shift and solved the problem. The night shift operators were simply not running the machine correctly.”

AMF is currently developing a system called AMFConnect, which will collect operating parameters from the divider and track uptime and downtime. The system will time stamp operator changes and line stoppages and include diagnostic codes for the stoppages. The system will also be able to generate data reports to analyze performance vs. machine settings.