One wholesale bagel baker in the Pacific Northwest attributes its success to their willingness to go the extra mile to meet their customers’ quality standards. In this case, that extra mile was represented by over-apportioning dough to ensure that the finished bagels were at or above the specification weight. This policy was good for customer satisfaction, but not very good for profitability.
“The divider is a continuous process, but the dough that feeds the divider comes from a batch process,” the engineering manager said. “Generally, the individual batches are the same, but the beginning of the batch has little fermentation, thus we have very consistent dough pieces. But toward the end of the batch, more fermentation gives greater volume and less weight.” The operators were constantly monitoring weights and making adjustments to the dough divider – a very time-consuming process.
Still another challenge was moving the bagel pieces along the production line. Raw dough is soft and sticky and tends to leave residue behind, especially when it is being transferred from one conveyor to another. Also, standard rejection mechanisms such as air jets, pushers, flippers, or deflectors do not work well on bagel dough.