The shape of the cookie gives its appeal to consumers and allows it to fit well into its package. The weight is important for label transparency.

Shape issues sometimes occur in both wirecut and rotary moulder systems, said Dan Christie, sales manager, Spooner Vicars. In wirecut systems, a wedge-shaped piece occurs when the feed rolls turn while the cookie dough is being cut. To prevent this from happening, Spooner Vicars’ servo drive at the cutter accelerates during the cut cycle before decelerating to complete the dough piece’s shape. This minimizes the contact time of the wire and the dough and prevents the wedge from occurring.

In rotary moulders, too much rubber roll pressure forms tails.

“Many times the extraction belt is powered by the friction between the rubber roll and the die,” Mr. Christie said. “If there’s too much pressure on the belt, you get tails. Too little and the belt slips.”

Spooner Vicars addresses this issue by giving the belt its own drive and providing side-to-side adjustment of the rubber roll pressure.

Weight control can also be an issue.

“One of the areas of opportunity when we talk to bakers is to improve the weight scaling accuracy,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann. “Some bakers with older technology experience a lot of weight fluctuations through the production run.”

Handtmann uses servo drives to precisely distribute the dough evenly across the product manifold in its flow divider for multiline production. This drive enables the cookie line to operate with only 1% weight variation. Operators can also monitor and adjust for weight variations with the Handtmann Communication Unit, which collects data from the production line.

Reiser designs its cookie systems to provide accurate portioning with minimal impact on the product.

“Our goal is to produce exact weight portions with the same quality of cookie that came out of the mixer,” said John McIsaac, vice-president of strategic business development, Reiser.

Improved dough flow also improves weight accuracy. Minipan redesigned its extrusion head to increase efficiency and accuracy. Increasing the rollers’ diameter enabled the head to extrude dough more efficiently while an improved superficial grip to the dough generates less friction. This reduces inconsistent temperature pockets in the dough.

“As a result, we can achieve a great flow consistency while treating the dough very gently and getting accurate portion control,” said Franco Fusari, commercial director and co-owner of Minipan.

Reading Bakery Systems’ (RBS) wirecut machines use feed rolls and a filler block to deliver accurate cookie weights, and their tight tolerances ensure weight control.

“The feed rolls offer a soft push to the cookie dough and minimize any work or force going into the product,” said Sam Pallottini, RBS. “The key is to make sure the feed roll gap is larger than the inclusions mixed in the cookie dough. The larger gap allows the inclusions to pass through while preserving inclusion integrity.”

Filled cookies have different needs when it comes to weight control. In these products, bakers must manage the weight of the filling. The key in these applications is maintaining the flow of product as it is portioning through the machine.

“Many people think that for us to make a filled cookie, we need to pulse the filling, making a natural break in the filling where the cookie can be cut,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales, Rheon USA. “This is not the case. If you were to pulse the filling, this would cause serious weight variations.”

To provide bakers with a more consistent flow of filling, Rheon uses a shutter that cuts, wraps and seals the co-extruded strand while also ensuring the filling is in the center of the cookie.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on cookie tech, click here.