Whether filled or glazed, sweet or savory, pastries are a staple product for all snacking occasions. Pastry production lines help shape and bake your pastries to your exact specifications for speed, quantity, and diversity, all while maintaining the best quality of the products. Here is how they consistently achieve it.
Pastry lines must include a module line-up that caters to each manufacturing stage for one or several types of products, which is why they feature a flexible design adjusting to specific requirements. The Universal Pastry Make-up Line by Rademaker is a great example of versatile technologies: it can bake an impressive range of pastries including twisted sticks, cookie snacks, pain au chocolat, D-shapes, pecan pies, Danish pastries, and more. The line ensures continuous production of large quantities in mono-production or multi-production modes, at high speeds, with working widths ranging from 600 mm to 1,600 mm. It is built with a flexible and modular design that can perform quick changeovers and requires little maintenance thanks to its advanced hygiene features. Such lines can support virtually any customization requested. “Configuration of the pastry line strongly depends on the required capacity and products. The final layout and size are also a result of the available space,” Marc van Rooijen told European Baker & Biscuit on behalf of Rademaker, adding that there are over 85 units available for specific make-up configurations.
The production of pastries requires mixing, kneading, sheeting, laminating, filling, decorating, cutting, proofing, baking, cooling, and packaging; for consistent, automated manufacturing, this means accurately synchronizing all of these respective workstations. Challenges in designing the optimum line stem from ensuring they are versatile enough to make a wide range of different products. “The main challenges are related to the increasing flexibility demands (i.e. large number of different products) in combination with requirements for high quality (i.e. shape & weight accuracy), on top of which we must consider ever stronger demands for hygienic design,” van Rooijen says. This flexibility generally means longer equipment lines, with a significant number of tools that need to be managed. To deal with this complex type of line, Rademaker have developed a so-called “tooling assistant” enabling fast and easy product changeover. The specialist explains how this works: “The tooling assistant contains a comprehensive list of tools combined with all required positions of the tools on the production line and the exact tool settings. The various settings are explained with easy to manage pop-up screens. The main conveyor frame has dedicated positions with clearly marked addresses that enable a fast and error-free product change-over. Due to this way of working, the production starts without issues at a high-quality level, after every single change-over.”
For sheeting and laminating, weight accuracy is key and this is ensured by stable processes, which is a key characteristic of Rademaker laminators, the company says of the equipment’s design. Next comes filling (when the recipe demands it); a high-end solution integrating a combination of electrical and mechanical design ensures accurate weighing and positioning of the filling. Some of the most common customizations are built to meet increasing requirements for flexibility, and they can include:
- Combinations of pastry and croissants on one machine;
- Combinations of pastry and bread on one machine;
- Combinations of pastry, bread, and croissants on one machine.
Such configurations entail various specific line sections dedicated to different product types that can be completely integrated in a flexible way, enabling a multifunctional production line. For example, to make various Danish pastry types such as Spandauers, Triangles, and Crowns, a specialized third-party unit can be integrated into the Rademaker line, enabling the automatic folding actions.
Many pastries can be produced on the same line. Puff pastry requires a lot of fat layers and could need an additional laminating section compared to Danish pastries. “The range of tools on the make-up line really determine the final shape and structure of the product. The main components on the make-up line like length cutters, filling machines, folding ploughs, lattice and toboggan units, and guillotines are standard. The settings of these tools determine how the specific pastry product will look like,” Coen Nikkels, marketing and business development, RONDO, tells us. The dough and filling specifications add to the taste and shape.
The line’s configuration is mainly determined by the products and the process: “The type of products determines the required configuration with respect to sheeting, lamination, and make-up. The process determines how the configuration of different systems in the line is designed. For example, pre-proofed frozen products don’t require an oven, while fresh products don’t need a freezer,” the specialist from RONDO says. He identifies one of the biggest challenges in designing pastry lines is in ensuring good interfacing between the different systems in the line. Optimizing the line for as many products as possible is another challenge because pastry products are vastly different in weight and shape. “Therefore, the necessity for an integral product list, specifying all details of the product, laminating, make-up and panning patterns is imminent. Without this overview, it is impossible to optimize the line correctly,” Nikkels stresses.
RONDO frequently receives the request to produce croissant-type products and standard Danish pastry products in-line. “The better solution would be a double legged make-up line which is fed by the same laminating line. One leg would be straight behind the laminating line for the curled croissant products. The parallel line would be a customized make-up line, fed using a bypass conveyor,” he adds.
Dealing with Fillings
There are multiple filling solutions. First of all, during make-up (before proofing/baking) it is possible to fill the product before it is shaped or after. Nikkels illustrates: “For croissants, we differentiate between before and after turning the triangle. Normally we would use a depositor for this. It is also possible to fill the product after baking through depositing or injection.”
Rademaker supplies a wide range of complementary depositor systems, enabling a large variety of filling solutions, the specialist tells us:
- Single-spot depositing of jelly, jam, and paste of up to 300 strokes per minute;
- Highly-consistent, continuous material flow of sweet and savory materials;
- Accurate injection of fruit, cream, garlic butter, and other homogeneous fillings into freshly baked products such as donuts, bread, croissants and éclairs;
- Various strewers for materials like cheese;
- Temperature-controlled hoppers enabling high-quality depositing of chocolate type fillings;
- Traveling nozzle bridges resulting in highly accurate and synchronized positioning.
Other fillings such as sausage, ham, and cheese slices are also possible by integrating third-party units into the Rademaker pastry line.
There are many ways to optimize resource utilization: first and foremost, the Rademaker Laminator creates a highly homogeneous sheet of dough. Then, the Rademaker Fatpump, which is a very stable machine, allows the butter – dough ratio to be controlled with very high accuracy. Rooijen adds: “Detailed process optimization by functions such as product detection guarantee the optimal use of (expensive) filling materials. The tool placements and settings also contribute to fast product changeovers, with very limited loss of material.”
Furthermore, the company’s strewing units help optimize flour use, while the energy consumption is lowered thanks to IE4 type of motors and optimized frequency controllers. “Overall, the focus for each Rademaker production line is to enable to lowest cost of ownership in the market combined with the best possible product quality,” he summarizes.
The more complex the transfers between the different stations in the line, the more resources are required to handle any problems occurring in the transfers. “Fully automatic pastry lines only require a minimum of resources because all transfers from one to the next station are automatic,” we learn from RONDO. On the other hand, the more complex the products are, with manual intervention, the more resources are required.
Key innovations for Rademaker include focusing on efficiency improvements and (fat & filling) accuracy improvements, mainly driven by increasing material prices. “Further automation, faster cleaning, easier and reduced maintenance, fast and reliable product changeover are among the most expected future innovation requirements. And for pastry lines with fillings like meat and dairy products, in particular, we also expect seriously increasing requirements for hygienic design,” summarizes Rooijen.
On the long run, RONDO foresees more flexible tooling on the make-up lines, which enable the operator to quickly change-over from one product to the other. “Also the use of Artificial Intelligence in the laminating and sheeting equipment will support the operator to quickly react on the changes in dough properties from batch to batch and day to day,” Nikkels anticipates.