Dough dividers are used to separate dough into individual pieces of a required weight. Baker Perkins said it has sold several hundred of its Accurist dividers to bakeries around the world and each is fitted with four or five dies.
“The dies move sideways and downwards in the machine to set the weight of the dough piece and then eject it from the machine,” explained Keith Graham, marketing manager with Baker Perkins. “They are plastic but because there’s movement there has to be lubrication, which means oil seeps past the die.”
In addition, he said dough works its way past the die, and after a while the build-up of dough prevents them moving smoothly in the machine, which in turn affects the weight control, leaving bakers with no choice but to clean the dies.
Frequent cleaning increases downtime and the risk of damage to the dies, said Graham. “The dies are basically plastic blocks covered in oil, which makes them very slippery. If you drop them they become deformed and won’t slide in the machine, which messes up your weight control.”
Baker Perkins became aware of these issues from discussions with customers and feedback from service engineers.
“We have a lot of dividers on service contracts so we get a lot of feedback on the performance of machines," he added. "One comment that kept coming back was that the dies are not easy to clean and are difficult to handle. Customers also told us that the amount of oil being used was something they wanted to reduce if possible.”
Acting on this feedback, Baker Perkins has reduced the contact area between the die and the machine by 50% and introduced a self-cleaning feature that disposes of dough passing the die face rather than allowing it to accumulate. It has also made the dies lighter and easier to grip.
“By reducing the amount of die that is in contact with the machine we have reduced the friction and therefore the amount of oil needed. In minimising the amount of oil going past the die we’ve reduced the amount of dough going past the die. The net effect is that bakeries don’t waste as much oil and dough and the die will run for longer before it needs cleaning. When it does need cleaning there is less danger of it becoming damaged,” said Graham.
Graham said typical savings accrued by switching to the new dies might be 10-15 per cent on oil, and 5-10 per cent on dough.
The marketing manager pointed out: "Oil is very expensive and the dies are not that expensive so bakeries are looking at payback within a year."
Performance of the Accurist2 divider has been further enhanced by the introduction of a ram (the part of the system that pushes the die into the chamber) with more efficient oil distribution that is said to improve operation and extend component life.