In a fresh donut operation, changeovers are inevitable as bakers are producing all of their SKUs daily to satisfy customer orders for the next day. The controls from automation not only provide product consistency but can also make changeovers easier and faster. 

“An automated system should be designed to produce the same product that is currently being produced in a semi-automatic process,” said Ken Weekes, international sales manager, WP Bakery Group USA. “This means that all the parameters must be established and then reproduced in an automatic process. … It is always advisable for donut makers to start by looking at the current process, such as timing, temperatures, humidity so that these can be replicated in an automatic system.”

By programming these parameters into the system, a production line can adjust to a different product quickly and accurately. And if there is a new product in the portfolio, well, that can be added, too. 

“New products can be added to our automated lines at any time in the future because the program control allows certain personnel in the bakery to create new processes,” Mr. Weekes said. “There is flexibility in the speed and timings, the weights, the temperatures, etc., so this is a simple process.”

AMF Tromp’s sheeting equipment ensures repeatable performance and controlled baking parameters through recipe-driven control systems. This also ensures that parameters can be switched by simply choosing a different recipe in the system. Not only does this make each run of donuts consistent and accurate, but it also protects product quality with gentle and precise sheeting. 

Today’s equipment addresses the quality of the donut with low-stress sheeting. 

“That’s really needed to maintain the dough’s product characteristics and shape,” said Nick Magistrelli, vice president of sales and marketing, Rademaker USA. “Shape control is a really big factor to maintaining the product qualities through sheeting and cutting.” 

He emphasized that the key to quick changeovers on an automated production line is that they be designed as simply as possible. This helps keep production interruptions to a minimum and efficiency high. Much of this comes down to tooling.

“We don’t want to complicate a changeover on an automated line, which is why we make tooling that is easy to change over quickly while minimizing scrap,” Mr. Magistrelli said. “That’s our unique fit tooling. If our customer puts in the conical roller, the operator can immediately go into production and not waste product because they’re making it correctly right away.” 

Fritsch, a Multivac Group company, provides software that allows operators to monitor for production efficiencies and product quality while changeovers in tooling are done manually to adjust for product size and shape. These can be done without special equipment needed. 

For Rondo, ease of changeover is due to its dough band makeup line. A quick change of a stamping die or the push of a button to change lamination parameters enables production to switch from a round donut to square or even other shapes like stars or hearts. 

Moline Machinery adapted its fully automated yeast-raised donut line for mid-capacity operations and will display it at the International Baking Industry Exposition, Sept. 17-21 in Las Vegas.

The production line’s auto-stamping feature addresses the challenge of slower changeovers that can come with flexibility. The system can handle not only traditional yeast-raised rings but also mini products and custom shapes. 

“This system uses auto-stamping changeover that can change over in minutes and is capable of high rates, about 1,300 dozen per hour,” said David Moline, vice president, sales and marketing, Moline Machinery. 

As fresh donut producers grow and look at how they can adapt their operations to incorporate more automation, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each operation requires a close look to evaluate every change automation will bring and whether it will be a help or hindrance.

“When a baker is coming from semi-automated or a manual process to an automated process, there are definitely things in the process or formulation that have made them successful for a reason, and we want to make sure we’re not doing away with something that makes their process unique,” Mr. Moline said. 

This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Donut Processing, click here.