Baking & Snack - August 2020 - 32

"We could have sent the conveyer in one direction
with not as much capacity, but I said, 'Why would we
do that?' " Mr. Hart recalled. "With the bi-directional
conveyor, we can feed more rounders on both sides and
increase our throughput two-fold."
The belts feed four Benier conical rounders to create pizza
dough balls, which the bakery was producing during Baking
& Snack's visit, and downstream, the automation supports
those custom orders as they head to the freezer's infeed.
As they travel on the Vemag's Smart Shuttle conveyors, a
Mettler Toledo checkweigher ensures tight tolerances for the
products. Again, Custom Foods takes their customer specs
very seriously, and accuracy is a critical part of the process.
At the infeed, the Smart Shuttle capabilities replaced
manual orientation, alleviating stress on workers and increasing flexibility - not to mention energy savings -
down the line.
"Here, the system can be programmed in a variety of
ways for different patterns that we want to place on the
infeed," Mr. Hart explained. "If we want three dough balls
across or nine across, the Smart Shuttle conveyors will
manage it. That allows us to fill up the spiral belt more accurately so we're not wasting energy in the freezer."
Mr. Hart noted that the pizza line improvements drove
efficiency up to 90% and made work life easier for the operators, too.
"The shuttle conveyors accomplished all of that," he said.
"We had people who would transfer dough balls onto the
infeed of the spiral belt all day, and I said, 'You know they
make machines that can do that.' Now, our shuttle conveyors send those dough balls in whatever pattern we desire at
the rate we need."
Additionally, inserts allow for a multitude of weights and
sizes ranging from 6 oz to 40 oz.
"And it's all covered within three inserts that go into the
machine," Mr. Hart said. "It can be done in a two-minute
changeover time."
Automation also provides the flexibility to create various
types of pizza products quickly and efficiently. The line is
convertible, so operators can quickly shift from producing
dough balls to pressed pizza shells by simply swinging a
rounder out and over to the checkweigher. Then the dough
balls travel on a resting spiral and then through an AM
Manufacturing hot press to make the shells.
Mr. Hart chose pressing technology to avoid reworking
trim from die-cut sheeted dough and potentially interfering with the integrity of a formula. It also provides easy
flexibility for customers.
"We had a customer who had been ordering dough
Top: The pizza line's freezer can run 15,000 lbs of dough per hour.
Bottom: Pizza dough pieces travel in two directions from the divider toward four
conical rounders.

32 Baking & Snack August 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com


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