Forming ideal industry machinery solutions
Confectionery Production examines some of the key developments within forming and extrusion machinery
For manufacturers serving customers around the world, having the right equipment that is reliable, efficient and flexible are all critical for confectionery producers.
The forming and extrusion end of the machinery market is no exception to these requirements, with greater levels of automation playing their part through industry 4.0 concepts being embedded into ever-more advanced systems.
One such example is French-based Proform, which since the mid 1990s has been developing equipment that have focused on efficiency and streamlined for specific specifications.
As the company explained, its design principles have focused on having the flexibility to produce several products at once. Consequently, change-overs of its equipment reportedly take just a few minutes to complete in order to minimise downtime.
These principles are demonstrated with Proform’s continuous mixer, Extruder ME, designed with a modular process zone, making them capable of other functions beyond core forming and extruding processes.
According to Proform, its production line configurations are numerous including mixing raw ingredients to make finished ready-to-use dough or paste or adding colour and flavour to a neutral mass. Efficiency is key, with mixing time said to be less than two minutes. Due to the machine design, only a very little product resides in the mixer; if a quick stop is required, only a little product may be lost.
A continuous mixer extruder at output splits the finished dough into streams, to seamlessly feed down-stream forming equipment. The wide range of products handled include chewing gum, cookies or biscuits.
Another function of an ME Extruder is continuous graining of neutral chewy masses, with in-line blending of colouring and flavouring resulting in several possibilities of complete continuous mixing production lines. In this case, the need for storage rooms for curing or maturation is eliminated. After crystallisation the ME extruder forms ropes which in turn feed down-stream forming lines. In addition, the company’s MI series Intruder which has just gone into global production, can take in a candy mass directly from the cooking system to perform four functions.
These include efficiently cooling the hot product mass, graining or crystallising in line, adding colour, flavour, citric acid or other ingredients and finally, continuously extrude up to six ropes, according to the demand of the downstream forming lines. For example, one rope or stream could feed a ball forming line; or one or several streams could be sent to directly feed cut and wrap machines after the cooling tunnel.
Another manufacturer which has been making strides with its product development is Extrugroup, serving small and medium-sized companies in the sector. It is particularly focused on devising systems specifically for liquorice products, fruit gums, and fruit snacks, especially those with natural flavours.
The company, which includes its Extrufood operations, explained it had made a key breakthrough in developing 100 per cent fruit snacks using its cooking and forming extruders.
Among its present range of continuous production equipment options include custom-designed options for cooking, mixing and forming extruders, through to cooling tunnels, sugar sanders and guillotine cutters.
As the business added, it is able to supply new and upgraded versions of existing equipment in order to help optimise customers’ production methods.
The business, which has nearly four decades of experience in the confectionery industry, supplies production lines from 20 kg/hr up to 2,000 kg/hr. Its production lines enable manufacturers to offer an enhanced variety of options, with up to six different colours and flavours, fillings and coatings.