As production lines in commercial bakeries fly faster, product quality can’t suffer as throughput increases. At the divider, it’s dependent on accurate dough weights and that the dough’s cell structure isn’t harmed — or damage is minimized — as it is cut. Balancing these needs against high-volume production has become a responsibility of equipment and software.
“It’s our opinion that it is not the operator who should take care of managing high speed with accuracy,” said Richard Breeswine, president and CEO, Koenig Bakery Systems. “The equipment available nowadays is capable of fulfilling these requirements. The operators should be trained well to know where to adjust certain parameters to achieve high weight accuracy, but basically, this is not something a bakery should be worried about. This is the equipment manufacturer’s job.”
Creating an accurate, quality dough piece at the divider while moving at high speeds relies on many features coming together at once: consistent dough delivered to the divider, automatic adjustments, and cutting mechanisms that are fast, accurate and gentle when necessary.
Cut to speed
Much of the magic of dividing accurately at high speeds exists within the divider’s mechanics. Whether it’s a vacuum, double-screw, vane cell technology or something else entirely, dividers today turn out consistent dough pieces at extraordinary rates.
“AMF dividers are very consistent and durable, helping maintain high production efficiency and with the most accurate scaling available,” said Bruce Campbell, vice-president, dough processing technologies, AMF Bakery Systems. “Generally, the faster the line runs, the more accurate the divider runs. They are designed to fly — like an airplane.”
That design includes a precision, limited-slip twin-auger continuous pumping system that sends dough into a stainless-steel manifold that generates a low pressure across each port of the divider. Each of these ports has an AMF Flex pump, which accurately meters the dough. “Accuracies of one gram variation or better are achievable in consistent production,” Mr. Campbell said.
With its WP Tewimat or WP Multimatic, WP Bakery Group USA maintain high weight accuracy of up to 3,000 pieces per lane. “At a 10-lane divider, this adds up to 30,000 pieces per hour of weight-accurate and well-rounded dough pieces,” explained Patrick Nagel, key account sales manager, WP Bakery Group USA. The company’s WP Kemper Softstar CT or CTi Dough Divider with high-performance drives reaches up to 36,000 pieces per hour.
“All our dividers are based on the suction principle, and the pressure of the pistons is adjustable as well, which allows for reduced pressure to handle dough with higher absorption rates,” Mr. Nagel said.
Koenig also uses a newly developed drive technology on its Industrie Rex AW to reach 60 strokes per minute in continuous operation. This brings the 10-row machine to a maximum capacity of approximately 36,000 pieces an hour.
The Admiral Divider/Rounder, originally from Winkler and now remanufactured by Erika Record, uses a knife and piston system controlled by the main drive to reach accuracies of plus-or-minus 1 g on each piece. The machine was designed for heavy-duty production around the clock.
Reiser bases its dividers on double-screw technology. The infeed system gently loads the double-screw, which then scales the product accurately at high speeds. “We first look at the product with the bakers,” said John McIsaac, director of strategic business development, Reiser. “We need to learn about the product before we determine the best way to divide the dough. Once our bakers understand the product, we match the right machine to the job.”
To achieve high-volume scaling accuracy, Handtmann dividers use vane cell technology. “Our dividers also have a very short product path inside the divider to minimize any undesirable change on the dough conditions like gluten development and dough temperature that affect how the dough performs in the proofer or oven,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales manager, Handtmann.
The new Handtmann VF800 series was designed with a larger vane cell, allowing the divider to portion more dough at the same time to achieve higher throughputs instead of simply running faster.
Mecatherm’s dividing systems use a shingling station to first create continuous and thick dough bands. Gently moving this band preserves the dough structure and gluten network. The divider itself uses an ultrasound mobile guillotine to provide an accurate and clean cutting point without compressing the dough. “These technical features of the M-NS divider contribute to accurate dough piece weights at high speeds,” said Hubert Ruffenach, R&D and technical director, Mecatherm.
Adjusting on the fly
Many dividers now feature weighing systems to check piece weights coming out of the equipment. The equipment not only weighs the divided pieces, but it sends that information back to the divider so the equipment can adjust for differences in dough throughout production. This is particularly helpful for doughs with inclusions or feature an open-cell structure.
“With the WP Haton bread divider, it is possible to add a checkweigher,” Mr. Nagel said. “It’s not required for rejecting pieces, although it can be set up that way. The benefit is you can set to a specific number of pieces, and the checkweigher will weigh the pieces and divide by that number to get an average. It will then adjust the divider to move weight up or down as required.”
Rheon’s Stress Free Dividers incorporate weighing before and after the dough is cut to maximize weight accuracy. The system creates a continuous dough sheet that travels across load cells that are under the conveyor belt. “These load cells tell the guillotine exactly when the proper amount of dough has gone past and when to cut,” said John Giacoio, national sales director, Rheon USA. “The system goes even further by checking the weight on a secondary set of load cells after each piece has been cut.”
This secondary check is important as dough ferments and changes throughout processing. Because dough is a living product, it is changing all the time, whether from floor time, dough temperature or minor batch variations, this continual weight monitoring maintains consistency as the dough changes.
Handtmann recently developed its WS-910 weighing system to integrate into its dividers and correct these variations. This system monitors dividing and takes the burden off the operators.
Likewise, Mecatherm’s M-NS divider detects dough density in real-time to reduce weight fluctuation. “Even when dough density changes, the set weight is preserved.” Mr. Ruffenach said. The divider rejects pieces that don’t fit the previously set tolerances. Rejected pieces are then reused so no product is lost.
Two of Koenig’s dividers — the Industry Rex Compact AW and Industry Rex AW — feature continuously adjustable and even pusher pressure for weight accuracy across dough types and consistencies. “By adjusting the pusher pressure, the dough pieces come out accurately for various doughs at different rows,” Mr. Breeswine said.
This article is an excerpt from the September 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on dividers, click here.