The challenges in making wafers are multifaceted – aside from new product shapes, we are challenged with continuously increasing production standards. Technology solutions work to not only solve them all but also to enable unlimited wafer-creativity.
Energy savings and enabling manufacturing facilities to go green are very much key for wafer producers, as they are in all fields of the baking industry. Global wafer expert HAAS identifies many aspects to challenges in this segment, not only related to product shapes, but to aspects transforming the industry entirely: lowering emissions, and energy consumption, fulfilling special execution requests according to internal standards, industry 4.0, and many more.
“The market for sweet wafer snacks is relatively saturated, which is why we are offering innovative new product ideas to inspire our customers,” HAAS said. “Consumers like variety and snacks with a playful side to them, so wafers in various shapes are always an interesting option, especially when it comes to seasonal varieties. We have already developed different wafer snacks in special shapes to accommodate fluctuating market needs,” the specialist added.
Preserving the integrity of the wafers throughout production is paramount for this product. “The way integrity of the wafers is ensured depends on the product,” HAAS said. “An important factor is determining the right batter recipe – our food technologists work with our customers to find the right recipe for their production line to ensure high-quality wafer sheets.”
Cutting wafers into shape should only result in the desired shape, and no material wasted and broken. After being discharged from the cooler, flat wafer blocks can be either cut individually or stacked to cut multiple blocks at the same time. HAAS explained: “The blocks are cut by pressing them through cutting frames arranged at 90-degree angles. By changing the cutting frame, we can easily cut new products on the same equipment.” After the cutting of the wafer book, it is even possible to precisely guide every individual product directly to the wrapper of the packaging machine.
With the free-shape cutter FF-AWDM, flat wafers can be cut into any desired shape, such as stars, letter, and animals, to name but a few. “Hollow wafers can be either cut or punched, depending on the product. We work closely with our customers to make their product dreams come true and to tailor their wafer lines to their specific needs,” added the equipment specialist.
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
When the hot wafer sheet leaves the oven, it has to get in shape very quickly before it is cold. As soon it is cold the sugar crystalizes and the wafer sheet is not flexible anymore. “The process of shaping does take place very quickly. At the biggest WALTER plant JU C 20-306, five wafer sheets per second leave the oven and enter the rolling unit to get their conical form. For wafer cups, WALTER has a wafer bowl press and for wafer rolls, there is also a special tool. Our customers can produce different products with one oven just by changing the equipment for shaping,” Bartels explained for us.
“Due to the added sugar the sugar wafers are very solid. Furthermore the transfer from one unit to another is very smooth and all units are synchronized. The wafers are perfectly guided to the stacking belt where the packaging takes place,” WALTER says.
The baking plates for all flat and almost all hollow wafers can be cleaned with a laser cleaning unit. Cleaning the baking plates with a laser is a very clean process: it cleans gentler and much faster than dry ice, more reliably than a brush and environmentally friendlier than chemicals. There is no need for additional clean-up and no residue remains.
“We are currently working on product innovations such as savory wafer snacks. Using local ingredients such as buckwheat in Europe, quinoa in South America, chick peas in Asia, millet in Africa, oats in Australia and corn in America, we also cater to special nutritional needs such as gluten-free or protein-rich requirements,” HAAS adds.
You can read additional information in our print magazine European Baker & Biscuit (Sept/Oct 2018)!