Sales increases in the artisan and premium bread categories have caused high-volume-bakeries to expand their productionlines to accommodate upscale bread formulations. A bakery's dividing system plays a critical role in the quality of these fast-growing breads, and equipment suppliers are innovating new dividing technologies to improve the dividing process and install more flexibility into automated systems.
The main difference between dividing artisan breads and traditional pan breads is hydration. Artisan breads typically have higher watercontent levels than standard bread loaves and many equipment manufacturers have designed dividing systems that accommodate these formulations.
Flexibility represents another consideration in new dividing technology. With ever-evolving consumer preferences, many bakers are demanding dividing systems that process artisan, premium and traditional breads and loaves.
Balancing these two dividing concerns has been the priority of many of the baking industry's leading equipment suppliers. One equipment manufacturer's divider processes artisanstyle ciabatta dough that has three to four hours of fermentation time and 80% hydration. The dividing system produces 2,000 lbs. of dough per hour. Besides producing high-water content dough, the divider also is flexible enough to produce standard rolls at 55% to 65% hydration.
This divider manufacturer also has developed an artisan bread dividing system that produces 2,600 lbs. of artisan bread dough per hour. The system accommodates various bread sizes, ranging from 12 ozs. to 5.5 lbs. The dividing system uses a continuous dough string and incorporates a scale and guillotine. The divider processes dough with 60% to 80% hydration levels. Both systems operate without divider oil or water, the company says.
Another manufacturer's dividing system produces high-water content dough using servo-controlled independent motors. These motors allows automatic adjustments to occur when dough-scaling weights become inaccurate. When production schedules call for a changeover, the dividing system requires five minutes to be reconfigured. The divider processes ciabatta, pizza and premium bread dough with as much as 80% hydration.
Many divider manufacturers are looking beyond traditional dividing systems to innovate new makeup technologies. One manufacturer uses extrusion technology to divide bread dough. The system features double screws and a pumping system to divide dough pieces between 7 ozs. and 27 ozs. The system electronically stores 99 different formulas and requires no divider oil.
Another divider manufacturer borrowed pastry and sweet good production technology to create dough sheets for artisan and premium bread dough production. This technology removes gas from the dough sheet and produces a tighter crumb structure, the company says. The sheeter features a cutting system that cuts dough by weight, which eliminates seam manipulation and deformity, and helps proofing, the sheeting company says.
Implementing the ideal dividing system into a production line requires forethought. The line must be tailored to fit existing production, but also must be capable of accommodating new products when consumer preferences switch. High-volume bakers also must be prepared to think outside of the box. "Search out companies that are trying to be innovative and creative and think outside of the old traditional way of making breads," one divider manufacturer says.