In the mix

Kitty So, Alan Osborn, Lee Adendorf, Wang Fangqing and Keith Nuthall report on innovations in the mixing technology.

Producers of mixing machinery for the confectionery industry around the world continue to improve their machines, but generally opt for incremental improvements in sanitation and multi-purpose functions rather than creating entire new products.

Dutch confectionery equipment producer Tanis Confectionery, plans to unveil new mixing technology at Germany’s Interpack processes and packaging trade fair in May, Leo Tanis, CEO of Tanis Confectionery told Confectionery Production.

The company designs complete production lines, including mixing technology, and offers products worldwide. Tanis notes that its technology for gums and jellies – the T-Gel line – is among its most popular mixing equipment, speedily mixing key ingredients: “We can dissolve gelatin within three minutes,” he explains.

Tanis mixing equipment sells well among North American confectionery producers, notes Ross Bainbridge, managing partner of Bainbridge Associates – the exclusive provider of Tanis equipment in North America. While Bainbridge declined to divulge any customer details, he notes that Tanis machines, including those with mixing capabilities, are mostly sold to producers of gums, jellies, caramel, cream and nougat.

Meanwhile, in Iowa in the US, Marion Mixers has been improving the sanitation of its machines. In the past year, the company has made available mixers with a new level of sanitation: the 3A sanitary certification (from the US-based 3A Sanitary Standards Inc) could “open some doors, specifically in a food grade area like confectionery,” says Scott Jones, Marion’s marketing manager.

Marion’s 3A certified mixers are horizontal, stainless steel and feature a U-shaped trough and a shaft with welded arms and legs propelled by a motor located outside of the vessel. The welded shaft prevents contamination because there are no grooves or crannies, easing cleaning. Special seals around the shaft prevent leaking.

Marion’s 3A sanitary certification is high and endorsed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which ensures producers meet American food inspection standards, notes Jones. Marion Mixers can also meet standards such as the European Union CE certification requirements.

Customers include Nestlé, Hershey’s, Duncan Hines and General Mills. Marion has supplied a sanitary horizontal paddle mixer for granulated sugar blend confectionery to General Mills in the US, and the same type of mixer for chocolate blend mixing to Nestlé in the Philippines, for example.

Innovation in Europe

European mixer manufacturers are also innovating. Stephan Machinery in Germany is developing new products for a projected 2015 release, a marketing executive told Confectionery Production. Founded in 1953, Stephan is known for its universal machines UM130 and UM200, which combine mixing with other functions. The company says that Stephan’s UMs “handle almost all the tasks involved in the production of confectionery, processed cheese and convenience products – from mixing and chopping, emulsifying and vacuum deaeration to heating and cooling.” Each process is handled by one machine so that “the power of the main motor is transferred directly to the knives – without gear – and the rotating knives, reverse-acting scraper arm together with the interaction of the special bowl-geometry achieve optimum processing of the product.”

As for sweet bakery, Zeppelin Reimelt, through its subsidiary Reimelt-Henschel, based near Frankfurt, is an international supplier of machinery to food and other industries, with branches in the US, Brazil, France, Britain, South Korea and Hong Kong. The company claims that its Codos system for continuous mixing and kneading has broken ground by substituting an assembly line procedure for batch production, with uniformity of dough consistency being its main asset.

Smaller markets

Such big European and American suppliers are important for smaller markets, such as Australia and New Zealand, which may lack their own plant production capacity. Multinational confectionery giants such as Mondelez International, Nestlé and Mars have the financial muscle to source mixing equipment worldwide. The market for mixing technology for smaller confectionery manufacturers is often served by supplier agencies, notes Martin Crumpton, of Australian equipment supply agency Allied Industries, which works in Australia and New Zealand.

Sydney-based Elliott Automation supplies German amixon dry mixers, Italian Sancassiano mixers and American Shaffer mixers.

Australian confectionery manu-facturers import foreign-made machinery duty-free under the ‘enhanced project by-law scheme’. It provides duty-free tariff concessions for imported mixing technology to food processing projects over AUD10m (€6.8m) where equivalent Australian-made technology does not exist, or where the technology provides a unique benefit to the business.

A rare local plant maker is Ernest Fleming Machinery & Equipment, a Sydney-based company that manufactures mixing machines. The company also imports mixers from Europe and other countries such as India and China but according to director Arthur Lowenstein: “Quite often … companies won’t touch the Indian or Chinese stuff. If they are worried about quality, they want European- or even Australian-made.”

Other markets

Other markets are more self-enclosed. In Japan, a variety of mixers have been developed for two distinct confectionery sub-sectors: western style confections and Japanese traditional confections.

“They have different functions. Foaming mixers, for example, are mostly used in western style bakeries, where foaming cream is often used. But they are rarely used for Japanese confections, most of which use bean paste,” says Ryoko Irie, of Saitama-based mixer manufacturer Aicoh.

The company has a rich portfolio of mixers, including its stainless series launched in 2010. The series – marketed as hygienic, safe and reliable – quickly became popular among clients, including Lotte Co Ltd, Morinaga & Company and Meiji Co, Ltd.

The series includes more than 10 mixers, such as the head lifting stainless Super Twin mixer featuring a twin shaft mixer to ensure fine whipping and limiting scattering in bulk production; as well as Folder Mix, which specialises in processing delicate materials such as flour. However, the best-selling machine is the AWM-60ST whipping twin shaft mixer, says Irie.

“It’s exclusively for western style confections. It whips fresh cream and produces cookie dough,” Irie continues. The device features a bowl, which can handle up to 50 litres of fluid, as well as a twin shaft mixer that generates convection to “significantly reduce mixing time compared with using a conventional vertical mixer,” she adds.

Part of the process

Given that mixing machines are a critical part of the confectionery processing cycle, it is perhaps surprising that this sub-sector is very stable, with improvements often being tweaks on classic designs rather than wholesale make-overs.

Take Illinois, US-based confectionery machinery manufacturer Savage Bros, which has been in business since 1855. Its key mixing machine is the S-92 FireMixer cooker mixer, which was launched in 1902 and has been updated only twice, in 1948 – the S48, and also in 1992 – the S92.

Beata Corson, marketing sales and media co-ordinator, told Confectionery Production that these new editions involved fine-tuning what already sold well: “The core of candy making remains the same; you are looking at the same temperature, the same agitation – you don’t want to change something that has worked for 100 years.”

The S92 stirs the batch while cooking, as it always has – but now under digital temperature control. Savage sells gas or electric variants under native American motifs: a ‘Warrior’ model has a spring-loaded scraper agitator with fixed breaker bar; and a ‘Chief’ model has a counter-rotating second agitator for stiff recipes or those needing extra agitation.

Other models include a FireMixer-14 table-top automatic electric cooker mixer with PLC touch-screen control, which makes fudge, caramel, toffee, brittle and hard candy.

One-third of the company’s business involves mixing machines, with key confectionery clients making toffees and caramels. Most are across the US, but the company does export, and Ms Corson says that if successful, the negotiations to forge a European Union (EU)-USA Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal would help, because it could cut away export-import red tape. This currently restricts the company’s exports of mixers: “You run into different certifications and rules on different metals and alloys. It can be very expensive to get equipment certified. We might have to raise the price of the machine.” As it is Savage already has a higher export price for its machines. A comprehensive trade deal would “be an opportunity,” she says.

Conclusion

A common characteristic of mixing machines is their longevity (Savage offers parts for repairs) – and that has created a thriving second-hand market: “We’re sometimes competing against ourselves,” says Corson. “We have customers with machines that were working in the early 1900s.” Is this a problem? No, she says: “We hope we can grow with them and supply bigger equipment, and that they will continue to use the old smaller equipment for smaller product lines.”¨

 

 

 

 

 

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