Different varieties of dough will have their corresponding proofing requirements, which is why being in control of all proofing parameters will ensure the correct rise and texture every time. What type of equipment suits your facility and product range? Let’s find out.
Every type of product is different and every production environment is unique; in any case, technology will help ensure dough proofing is neither under- or overdone, by correctly adjusting to the desired temperature, humidity and air settings over the required time (and, ideally, while optimizing them for maximum efficiency). Just as every bakery has its own requirements, different types of proofing systems are available to meet them, and be uniquely adjusted to fit their baking home.
NewCap supplies several types of (final) proofing systems, from spiral systems, More Leveled Belt Proofers which prove products directly on the conveying belt, up to step systems, for baking trays, tins, or peelboards, all focusing on delivering consistent proofing conditions, every day and every season.
To achieve a uniform environment inside the machine, at the desired settings, NewCap distributes the air into the final prover via a duct system, while the return air is extracted at one side of the enclosure. The temperature and humidity sensor is located close to the return duct. “Airspeed is one of the key figures: you need a high amount of air refreshment (at low speeds) to keep the conditions inside prover as accurate and equal as possible,” said Geert Schellens, sales manager at NewCap, both part of the Verhoeven Bakery Equipment Family. To do this, NewCap has designed a special airflow grid with adjustable air channels. To maintain humidity within needed parameters, NewCap connects the climate unite of the proofing system to the steam and hot/cold water supply of the bakery. Steam will be used to control humidity and water to regulate temperatures inside the system. When the air is circulated inside the final prover, measurements are taken at the climate unit’s infeed, to adjust temperature and humidity levels via a PLC. Alternatively, NewCap can offer ultrasonic moistering or cold water humidification.
At the Dutch specialist, environment variations are taken into account, as well as all unique requirements of each manufacturer, to adapt each proofer to the product and space available. To perfectly fit a proofer, if a facility has a low ceiling, NewCap will recommend a multi-level conveyor system. Conversely, tall buildings can make the best use of stepping systems, which can go as high as 12 meters and around 4 meters wide. “We always advise the customer to go for a system that has a low speed, but high capacity. This will ensure the best dough-friendly handling possible!” Schellens highlights.
A proofing system should ideally incorporate several characteristics to make it the right choice for specific needs. NewCap has detailed the benefits its most common system – its stepping system – provides:
- Proofing systems with a standard range of 30 min up to 4 hours. If required, the proofing time can be longer.
- Compact footprint, by utilizing all available height;
- Low speeds: depending on the line capacity vs. proofing timings, the system makes a small step or 5-6’ every 30-60 seconds;
- Low energy consumption: “Compared with other systems, this system is not continuously moving the whole mass of forms and dough around inside the prover, but makes only a small step, once on in a while,” the specialist explains.
- Low maintenance costs, thanks to its intermittent movement;
- Easy access for cleaning: the system is completely open, and all baking forms come out after usage so that its interior can be easily reached.
- Safety features: the bottom and top conveyors are mounted or hanging in springs. When the prover is set to manual mode for maintenance or restarted during a power outage, for example, there is a risk for operator mistakes. Because the conveyors have springs, the system can’t be damaged. If the wrong action is taken, the conveyor will be pushed up or down and a sensor will be activated. “You can compare it with an airbag in your car. You never use it, but if necessary you are happy that your car contains one,” Schellens illustrated.
- Grease-free conveyor chains: NewCap has improved the design of its chains to not need lubrication systems, which eliminates contamination risk while also lowering maintenance time and costs.
Consistency in Proofing
AMF Bakery Systems proofers are available in several industrial configurations, Rack, Step, Tray and Continuous. The selection of one type of equipment over another depends on capacity, variety, automation required, and not on the actual type of product being proofed.
Besides, cost is often a factor for medium-sized production lines. Dennis Kauffman, executive product manager, explained their underlying operating principle: “In all of these cases, the environment inside the enclosure is maintained at constant temperature and humidity until a change is made, so any products within the proofer will be exposed to uniform proofing conditions. If products require significantly different proofing conditions, then a changeover is required between products.” If products are mixed and can use the same conditions, then no changeover is necessary. To optimize timings, the proofer will adjust easier to the set points if the products are scheduled from cooler, low humidity stages to warmer and higher humidity. “The metal holds heat and will require time to cool down if the process is reversed,” Kauffman explained.
Common customizations AMF is providing at the request of manufacturers in the APAC are for electric or thermal fluid heating, automation for smaller production lines, and self-diagnostic maintenance, the specialist illustrated. To automate the entire process, AMF’s proofers provide product tracking, so the operator always knows which products are in each stage of proofing. Dual-conditioning systems are also available in case one system is not working or is in service mode. Moreover, automatic washers are used for sanitation within the proofers. In the case of continuous proofing, AMF technology allows each product to pass through identical environment parameters, for the most uniform proofing conditions. “Systems can be run for several days knowing the same products will be handled exactly the same way,” she specialist from AMF illustrated. To control airflow, ductwork and vents allow direction variations. However, one set should not be moved, AMF recommends. “A proofer should be uniform throughout the proofing cycle. Some proofers have variable speed fans for more or less airflow but this is usually unnecessary,” Kauffman told us.
To ensure cleaning, proofers require floor drains, for the sanitation of internal frames and chains. The interior walls should be washed as necessary to prevent mold build-up, AMF’s specialist recommends; the heating system can then be used to completely dry off the proofer after cleaning.