Minor ingredients, major automation
|Bag dump stations can have a vibrating grate that acts as a
scalper or a screen.
Bulk ingredient handling typically consists of silos, sifters
and conveyors. Minor ingredients also play an important role in
formulations, and it is important for bakers to ensure proper
storage and handling of these ingredients.
Minor ingredients generally are received at the bakery either in 50-lb. bags, drums, boxes or supersacks. Once minor ingredients are received, they move to a bag dump, staging or supersack unloading station. After this, bakers employ many tactics, both highly automated and labor intensive, to move minor ingredients to the mixer.
The unloading station, or the bag dump station, marks the beginning of the minor ingredient handling system. One manufacturer of ingredient handling systems says that an unloading station essentially is a hopper with a hood on top of it. Bakers open the hood and dump minor ingredients into the bag dump station, where there is a vibrating grate that acts as a form of scalping or screening.
“The vibrating grate has maybe 3/8 in. or 1/2 in. openings in it,” the manufacturer says. “We call it a vibrating scalper. You could do that, or you might want to put in a separate screener or sifter to catch any large foreign objects, like pieces of bag, and remove them from the process.”
After unloading, minor ingredients are stored in a variety of systems and containers. One manufacturer offers an automatic storage and weighing system that is ideal for bakers that require quick changeovers for minor ingredients.
|Minor ingredients are conveyed from storage containers to a
scale hopper before moving to the mixer.
This system handles many different types of ingredients. Each
ingredient is placed in its own reusable container. The containers
feature an integrated dosing screw that ensures the exact quantity
of a certain ingredient is measured, the manufacturer says. In
addition, exact inventory of every ingredient is always up-to-date,
The containers remain in storage until a formula calls for them. Then a baker retrieves all of the containers needed for the specific formula and places the containers on a batching platform. The system automatically batches the precise amount of each ingredient to the scale hopper. The containers are as large as 100 liters, the manufacturer says.
“The main point you’ll see is flexibility,” the manufacturer says. “And a key point with that, it helps you address allergen control because of the portable containers. So your allergens are separate. It allows you to have separate dedicated systems in a flexible and economical way for allergens and non-allergens.”
Minor ingredient handling systems use both screw conveyors and pneumatic vacuum conveyors. Screw conveyors are used to move minor ingredients from storage containers to the batch scale hopper.
Screw conveyors typically are the simplest and lowest cost conveyor. “If you are going from point A to point B, this is the easiest way to do it,” one conveyor manufacturer says.” However, screw conveyors do not convey all of the material because remnants remain trapped in the conveyor. This is a problem if the conveyor is handling more than one ingredient at a time, the manufacturer says, because incorrect amounts of the ingredients are being conveyed.
In a pneumatic vacuum system, ingredients are transported with ambient air. With a vacuum conveying system, bakers control the temperature of the ambient air by eliminating the heat compression that is used with pneumatic pressure conveyors, one manufacturer of ingredient handling systems says. Because many different materials are being conveyed, and these materials are temperature sensitive, it is not ideal to add any heat to these ingredients.
“Vacuum conveyors are a much more effective and accurate way of conveying to a scale,” the manufacturer says.
As long as bakers know their minor ingredient handling needs, they will find a system that is ideal for their bakery operations. This system should include an unloading station, minor ingredient storage and conveyor.
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