Whereas systems with dough dividers and moulders have dominated the bread and roll market for many years, the significant new trend is production of bread from a continuous dough band, for quality and flexibility, even at the lower end of the scale. Gentle dough handling, along with ease of operation, automation and quality control, are continuing themes, as is versatility. The ability to process many products through the same machine, handling a wide variety of dough types, is especially important for modern products, including rustic and artisanal bread types.

Dividing and rolling

As far as single pieces of equipment go, Reiser UK is still stressing the advantages of the well-known Vemag dough divider, which is easily adjustable for dough absorption rates and crumb structures. The company says most of its customers are seeking versatility and the Vemag can handle absorption rates from 45% to 95% for all types of bread, buns and rolls, "from stiff bagel dough to English muffins".

At the heart of the Vemag is the double screw displacement pumping element, which combines gentle and consistent handling with exact weight portions from 5g to 20kg. Versatility coping with absorption rates and crumb structures is achieved through a quick change in the double screw.

Fast and accurate, the Vemag can run bread dough through single or double lanes at 200-plus pieces per minute. For greater output, a high-speed Servo divider can be added, giving up to eight lanes of product up to 300 times per minute. Lastly, there is no need for divider oil, saving money and eliminating air pockets and surface blisters.

The Combi Line, from leading automatic roll plant maker König, is a modular line that can be adjusted to the requirements of virtually any bakery, according to the UK supplier European Process Plant (EPP). "Bakers define the configuration of the plant depending on the markets they serve and their budget," says EPP’s director Stewart Morris.

Ideally suited to medium-sized businesses looking to step their roll production up a gear, the modular combination five-pocket automated Combi roll plant otherwise known as the König Rex Futura II includes a pre-rolling unit, intermediate resting chamber with nearly 200 swing pockets, a forming station and a traying-up station. It produces up to 9,000 products per hour, depending on the scaling weight, the dough type and the type of roll being produced which can be round, oval, rounded and stamped, longrolled, longrolled and stamped, flattened, convoluted, cut, fruited and seeded.

EPP rates the König Mini-Rex as "the best small automated dough dividing and rounding machine on the market". This two-pocket model has a small footprint and produces up to 4,000 pieces per hour. Simple to use, with a gentle dividing and rounding action, the sturdy design is easy to clean and maintain. Product weights range from 13g to 140g, and up to 50 product settings can be stored on the computer control.

Versatility, reliability and longevity have been key to success. EPP says it has installed some 900 König roll plants in the UK and Ireland and many automatic machines installed in the 1970s are still producing today.

At industrial level, the Industrie Rex Hyper automatic divider-rounder, launched at the iba show in Germany last October, can be taken apart for cleaning in 15 minutes "a major step forward in roll plant design", according to Morris.

Multi-purpose systems

Fritsch, meanwhile, is one of the suppliers offering multi-purpose lines for bread and pastry. The company’s Laminator 300, presented at iba last October, is its latest line of this type and features the Fritsch Soft Processing concept, incorporating the satellite and calibration head, combining the pinning/reduction and controlling functions.

Sensors at all the operating stations monitor the process continually, and continuously control the shape of the dough loop at every transfer point, managing belt speed as necessary, so the dough never buckles or tears. While Laminator 300 "masters the art of puff pastry, croissant and Danish dough", with least stress and high quality in largely automated ways, John Edmondson of Fritsch UK says the Laminator 300 Plus produces perfect dough sheets for all types of bread and roll products, including soft doughs for the modern trend of rustic baked goods. Baguettes, seeded rolls, ciabatta loaves and laminated dough sheets can all be made on the same system.

For industrial scale, the Fritsch Impressa system also features soft processing and a synchronised guillotine that avoids unnecessary sticking or jamming of the dough. Product quality is achieved with reliable performance and continuous operation over long periods of time. Servo-technology using a more expensive drive gives better precision and ease of control. "There is no dough that cannot be worked by this machine," says Edmondson, citing gentle treatment from beginning to end, with sparing use of additives and many other features, including hygiene and ease of cleaning.

Also pursuing the multi-purpose, modular approach, Rondo says its Smartline all-purpose, semi-industrial machine provides suitable conditions to obtain high-quality dough, whether the baker wants to produce ciabatta, focaccia, baguette, pizza, seeded bread rolls, doughnuts or other products including laminated pastry. Smartline allows the baker to process both soft and sticky doughs, as well as bread and rolls, yeast and short dough, and laminated dough. Smartline also features a satellite head system; sheeting of very soft to firm dough is effected by adjusting the angle of the head using patented Rondo technology.

Rondo’s industrial bread production line is also characterised by gentle handling and a wide variety of product styles, with "numerous intelligent detail solutions and a modular concept".

Dividing and rolling

From Rademaker, the Crusto bread line, developed in 2006, also has the multi-purpose, modular approach, with new features being added. The latest of these are the stress-free sheeting system already introduced in several European countries which works without extruders, and so portions the dough in a continuous sheet without any damage to the gluten network or any concession to the structure of the dough.

Among the optional modules, the bottom-seeder is able to moisten and seed the bottoms of dough pieces for improved eating quality; the baguette injection line can add (garlic) butter to baguettes and pistolettes; and there is a bending and pinching unit for croissants.

New bread lines

Meanwhile, Benier UK has just launched its new integrated baguette and speciality bread plant, based on the DrieM sheeted bread dough technology, which David Marsh, MD of Benier UK says "means that speciality bread and baguette manufacturers can produce fully automated products to artisanal standards".

The DrieM dough sheeting system produces almost any size of baguettes, buns, rolled buns and specialist or cut products at high capacity and high quality. "DrieM handles the dough much more sympathetically than traditional divider moulders, which cuts down on the potential damage on baguettes and other products that traditionally have a higher water content," says Marsh. "The result is a fully automated artisanal bread line which delivers top-quality products, with more accurate dimensions." He says that baguette manufacturers can now produce a 600mm long baguette from a 350g dough piece, each and every time which would be "quite a challenge for traditional systems."

Part of the Kaak group, Benier’s extensive portfolio includes provers, ovens, coolers, freezers and post-baking systems, such as adding garlic butter to baguettes.

A brand new bread plant concept, called the Fusion, has just been introduced by Mono Equipment, which marketing manager Roy Kitley says "is already generating a lot of interest from major supermarket groups who have seen its capabilities". Eighteen months in development, Fusion incorporates a divider, intermediate prover and combination moulder into a single production unit, capable of producing up to 1,000 pieces per hour, depending on weight.

The volumetric divider includes a flour-duster that is adjustable to allow for increased water content. The 180-pocket intermediate prover, with conveyor, provides an 8 or 10 minute intermediate proof, and features removable and interlocked catch trays and a newly designed dough centralising guide on the off-take conveyor.

A digital counter is incorporated into the main control panel, for an instant visual check on throughput. The moulder has a soft-start function that increases durability, and is fitted with a motorised off-take conveyor, set at an ergonomic height for easy traying-up.