Extruders Deliver Precision

Extruded products are among trendsetting and promising options for product development, with applications ranging from snacks, breakfast cereals, flatbreads, and confectionery goods. Innovation in the different types of extrusion technology helps optimize production, from lab-scale NPD, to high-capacity production.

Innovation can focus on improving different features of the machine, tweak processes, simplify operations, and automate production. For Albert Handtmann Maschinenfabrik, it means looking at the entire system, developing and implementing system solutions for dividing, forming and depositing dough. A wide range of products can benefit from these systems that bring process and quality advantages, from bread, (small) baked goods, to snacks, or any number of new, on-trend products.

Complete Systems

Among equipment requested in the APAC, one example is Handtmann’s SE 442 dough divider in combination with a VF 800 dough portioner. “It is equipped with a pneumatically operated blade and can achieve a high cycle rate depending on the scaling weight, dough consistency and the dough divider used. This high dividing capacity makes the SE 442 an attractive proposition for automated production processes as well,” Martin Rössler, sector manager Bakery,  Handtmann, explained for us. The system can be used to make toast, pizza (ball method), brioche (yeast plait) and bread. Thanks to the modular design, all components can be very quickly removed and refitted for cleaning purposes, which is a major advantage, especially when processing gluten-free dough, for example.

“The vane cell feed system is the core component of the VF 800 dough dividing and portioning machine and is the basis for the outstanding portioning accuracy with dough and other products,” he added. In addition, the very gentle transport of the filling product in the feed system as a continuous filling flow guarantees the product’s quality.

Twin Screw Innovation

An extruder recently introduced by Brabender, at iba last year, is the TwinLab-F 20/40, a stand-alone, twin-screw extruder designed for laboratory food applications. The innovations incorporated in this machine make it more food-appropriate, with easy cleaning features and meeting all relevant certifications and conformity declarations.

Brabender focuses on applications for technology upgrades. “For research purposes, the extruders come with an open lineup, so that the barrel can be opened for observations,” Jessica Wiertz, head of the Food Laboratory, Brabender, told us. “While in production extruders are used for laminated dough, for example, in research, extruders are a useful tool for the heat treatment of flours to test its functionalities. This is a project for the future for us,” she anticipates.

The specialist has recently run an application trial to extrude flatbread dough. The equipment lineup is made up of a dosing system for the flour, and a liquid dosing system in the case of bread dough. Certain screw elements will then be required; “A unique characteristic of our extruders is that our screw consists of more elements that can be combined. The more simple elements are conveying aids, while the mixing elements bring energy into the dough. This is important for dough applications as the extruder will not only transport flour and mix it with water, but it can simulate a mixing process, thanks to the mixing elements. In addition, backward elements can stop the dough from advancing to get additional pressure to help the mixing process,” Wiertz explained.

The extruding process is quite complex because there are numerous parameters to consider, including screw combinations, the throughput of the material, the speed of the screws, temperatures, or pressure zones. Once they are all set, then the settings are saved and cand be used for several samples. The main applications for this extruder are snack products, expanded products, any type of pasta, and breakfast cereals. “An interesting and requested application is also the reuse of waste products with the help of extruders, including grain by-products and different fibers,” the specialist pointed out.

“For the automation of lab equipment, we offer the whole system starting with the dosing unit (the dosing systems for powder, respectively liquid) and, downstream from the extruder, the dies, the cutter, and conveyor belt at the end. This system is ready for use as a small production line,” she said.

Wirecut Extrusion

Baker Perkins’ wirecut extrusion machines have been enhanced with weight control technology providing significant potential for improved profitability on cookies and bars. New TruWeight assisted weight control reduces variations in piece weights by individually adjusting the output from each die cup. “This makes the offset between the average and target weight of extruded dough pieces much smaller, reducing giveaway without producing an underweight product. The savings in dough and waste – and economic benefits – are significant, even though weight control on Baker Perkins’ TruClean wirecut is already best-in-class,” Baker Perkins specialists told us. These wirecuts cover a wide range of cookie and bar applications for high-fat soft doughs. Cookies may be plain or carry inclusions such as chocolate, nuts, and fruit. Sizes range from mini to large, in a variety of shapes.

To be Continued

Further innovation will take into account lowering production costs, which, in the case of processing plants, can be a very complex undertaking. “Plant and production managers frequently feel forced to pursue competing goals under difficult conditions: stringent quality requirements coupled with ambitious cost targets, quickly fluctuating demands and changing operating staff are typical challenges. Handtmann offers intelligent digital solutions for a wide variety of requirements that provide effective support and create real added value. Digitalization is definitely a part of long-run market developments,” Rössler elaborates. For Handtmann, cross-industry features in extrusion technology translate into processing sweets and snacks. This is why Handtmann will attend ProSweets, in Cologne, in the month of February next year.

Extruded product consumption is estimated to reach USD170bn in 2019, buoyed by the increasing popularity of organic and grain-based variants. The market segment has witnessed substantial growth in the past few years, and this growth is expected to continue increasing throughout the forecast period of 2019-2029, according to Persistence Market Research.

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