Ultrasonic slicers can cut a variety of sweet goods, including cheesecakes. One manufacturer offers an ultrasonic slicer that places divider inserts between each piece.
Producing high-quality bakery foods relies on many factors, including ingredients, equipment, time and temperature. A bakery can fine-tune all of these factors and produce an ideal bakery food only to have it crippled by a malfunctioning slicer. To ensure bakery foods maintain their ideal appearances, bakers must examine their slicers and determine if they are using the right slicer for the right application.
This chore has become complicated as the range of bakery foods expands. Years ago, bread slicers were designed to handle white bread. Today, many bakeries are running white bread and premium breads, which have different dough characteristics, on the same line. Sweet good manufacturing also has seen consumer preferences broaden the range of products available. These products include presliced and portioned cakes.
Fortunately, equipment manufacturers are staying on top of slicing. A new generation of slicing systems accommodates the growing number of bakery foods, and still maintains high speeds, flexibility and dependability.
In the past, bread slicers had to conform to only a few, although important, requirements: a straight slice, high speeds, and easy maintenance and sanitation. Today, bread formulas that incorporate enzymes, raisins, nuts and fiber have complicated the once simple task of slicing bread.
One bread slicer manufacturer constructed a new slicer that accommodates these requirements. For a straight slice, the manufacturer constructed a lattice system that provides rigid blade support. The blades in the lattice system work interactively, running in two different directions. This ensures a longer life for the blades, the manufacturer says.
This manufacturer also offers easy access to the lattice system. The lattice can be removed from the side of the slicer for maintenance and sanitation. An upgrade also is available where the lattice slides out of the machine. It remains attached to the slicer, but allows for extra accessibility. Bakers also can maintain and sanitize the remaining internal equipment of the slicer. A guarding system, located at the end of the machine, lifts straight up, similar to a wing guard.
Producing as many as 75 loaves per minute, this machine is constructed with stainless steel for easy sanitation. "Sometimes, the packaging on the slicers were painted or gray coated, as opposed to stainless steel," the manufacturer says. "But the issue is, if you had somebody rub up against the machine and scratch the paint off, the slicer would show rust and that is unacceptable."
This stainless steel design is particularly important in preventing erosion on the inside of the slicer caused by oils and lubricants. High-sugar breads require blade lubrication to prevent adhesives from sticking to the blades or guides. To combat this residual, the manufacturer offers a washdown design that includes a stainless steel drum and waterspray.
To accommodate traditional and premium pan bread, the manufacturer designed the bread slicer in standard widths and wide widths. The slicer also offers two infeed systems that handle multiple loaf sizes. The system uses a conveyorized infeed system, which is continuous, and a paddle feed system that individually feeds bread to the slicer.
One of the most important aspects of bread slicing is the blades. It is impossible to produce straight cuts without capable blades.
Dull blades cause excess crumbing and tearing of the slice. If the blades are extremely dull, they will not penetrate the loaf, causing it to cripple. Typically, blades should be changed every seven to 14 days if the baker is running a variety of products.
As whole grain breads' popularity increases, many bakers are producing a variety of different loaves to meet that demand. However, bakers must have the proper blades that can handle stiff doughs.
One blade supplier offers a blade specifically developed for these doughs. It has three teeth per inch and a scalloped geometry that is designed for penetration and slice smoothness, the supplier says. It features a razor-sharp edge and can slice a range of products without sacrificing blade life.
"Today's world has changed," the supplier says. "The mixes changed from a lot of white bread to the whole grain variety breads. You can't have a blade for white bread and a blade for variety breads."
Blades that handle a range of breads is one trend this supplier notices in the slicing industry. Another trend is slicer manufacturers who add oil, lubrication and scrapers to maintain and prolong blade life.
Blade hones, which are like sharpening stones, also prolong blade life. Blade hones automatically sharpen the scalloped edge. However, if they are not properly adjusted, the blade hones can damage the tips of the blade. Honing stones should be rotated occasionally, the supplier says, because otherwise they will lose their roundness and cause damage.
Similar to bread slicers, bun slicers must offer straight slices and dependability. Slicers may tear or pull buns during slicing, because of the difficulty slicing connected buns. One way to avoid this is to use a slicer with a bottom-hinge cut, one manufacturer says. This cut opens the bread like a butterfly, but the slice is made from the bottom of the bun, instead of the top.
This ensures that abnormalities are not seen by the customer, the manufacturer says, and gives a better presentation and a better slice.
Another bun slicer manufacturer offers a different solution to avoid misshapen buns: a vacuum system. Typical bun slicers apply pressure, through a top conveyor, to the top of the buns, causing wrinkles and a cup-shaped form due to the buns' warm and pliable texture from the baking process.
To avoid this, the vacuum system applies suction through the bottom conveyor belt to the bottom of the buns. A top conveyor is not necessary, therefore eliminating applied pressure to the top of the buns. The suction holds the top and bottom of the buns in place, allowing the blade to travel through. The slicer ensures that the tops of the buns are smooth and curved, without any crease marks. In addition, the slices are uniform and straight, the manufacturer says.
This system's vacuum also removes crumbs that result from the slicing process. Crumbs are collected by the vacuum into a waste receptacle during the slicing process. This feature leads to a cleaner work environment because the floor under the slicer is cleaner, the manufacturer says.
"Existing slicing technologies have been used for decades," the manufacturer says. "The addition of a vacuum product hold-down is the most significant change in the bun slicing industry in quite some time."
Just as premium breads need certain slicing requirements, sweet goods have particular slicing specifications. Sweet goods are more delicate, fragile and sticky than other bakery foods, and usually require accurate portioning. Bakers will enjoy the benefits that ultrasonic slicers offer these products.
Ultrasonic slicers contain blades that rapidly vibrate紡round 20kHz吠n an up and down motion. This rapid motion reduces the blade's pressure and friction on the product. In addition, the blade's vibration creates a pocket of air around the blade that eliminates product buildup on the blade. This reduces time spent cleaning the blade.
One manufacturer offers ultrasonic slicers that accommodate many products. The ultrasonic slicer for round products nests the sweet goods in product holders, which ensures accurate portions. The product holders are designed to handle multiple diameters and portion between four and 24 slices. PLC controls specify the diameter and number of portions. "There's no guesswork for the machines," he says. "The product doesn't slip because it's always in motion. The customer is always going to get precise portions." The ultrasonic slicer for round products is available both inline and as a stand-alone unit.
For sheet-type products, the manufacturer offers a stand alone ultrasonic slicer that also uses product holders. The inline sheet ultrasonic slicer uses product positioning clamps. An electronic eye senses the product as it moves down the conveyor. The clamps are activated and position the product. The clamps remove once the product has been accurately positioned, and the slicing begins.
The ultrasonic slicer for round products also offers divider inserts to separate portions. A divider insert is fed and centered under the blade. When the blade comes down, the divider insert folds around the blade and simultaneously inserts into the product. The baker specifies the size of divider insert.
"Paper is mainly for the end user," the manufacturer says. "It seals the side of the slice to keep it fresh, it prevents the wedges from moulding back together and it makes for easy separation."
For high-volume bakers that want to mix, bake, decorate, freeze, portion, package and ship in one shift, ultrasonic slicers have a significant advantage. Traditionally, products must be frozen overnight before they are sliced. With ultrasonic slicers, the products do not have to be frozen to the core. One trip through the blast freezer is enough. Bakers will save time, energy and space with the ultrasonic slicer, the manufacturer says, because the product is always moving.
As long as bakers maintain their slicers, and tailor slicers to specific application, bakers can produce high-quality bakery foods. Multitudes of options exist for bakery foods to be evenly sliced at high speeds on dependable pieces of equipment.