Many improvements in mixer sanitation, durability and process controls come from collaborations that lead to innovation. When great minds think alike, this often leads to problem-solving and reimagining the mixing process.

“AMF Bakery Systems collaborates on the product mix and required dough parameters to determine the best mixer, tools and dough system for that baker,” said Bobby Martin, executive product manager, AMF. “There is no secret other than taking the time to understand the customer’s product needs to determine the best solution. Together, we weigh both cost and value to achieve a common goal of producing the highest quality products for consumers.”

To determine the proper mixing style, many technical centers combine science with the art of baking to explore multiple mixing options from different tools and speeds of rotation against such varied ingredients, hydration levels and processing parameters.

For instance, five technologists at VMI’s Process Development Center in France analyze the evolution of the dough during the mixing process, after mixing and then again after baking. In January, the company plans to open its Linxis North America Technology Center in Kansas City at the headquarters of VMI North America and Shick Esteve, both sister companies of Linxis Group.

“During the tests, precise measurements and surveys will be made to compare all the mixing parameters such as temperature, texture of the dough or the integration of the flour or minor ingredients,” said Terry Bartsch, president and chief executive officer, VMI North America. “Depending on the desired result — hardness, cohesion, stickiness or elasticity of the dough — our experts will be able to guide our customers toward the choice of the right technology.”

Such a methodical approach follows the hard-and-fast rules of mixing while testing new technology, developing new processes and pursuing additional new trains of thought. Sometimes it’s just a matter of answering a simple question or taking on an unexpected approach during the factory acceptance test (FAT).

“A lot of suppliers are doing more FATs than in the past, so that’s how we learn,” said Damian Morabito, president and c.e.o., Topos Mondial. “Often we didn’t know if something was possible until a company challenged us to mix a dough at a certain temperature for an hour straight or test for something else in order to prove it to them.”

In some cases, he added, this exploratory process leads to discovering even more options.

“And then the engineers in the factory see that cause and effect and suggest ways on how they can design a mixer differently or adjust it to mix the dough to achieve what the baker wants,” Mr. Morabito said. “That’s how we’re advancing the ball across the floor.”

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