Company: Baker Perkins

Equipment Snapshot: Baker Perkins has exploited innovative technology to improve process control, performance and hygiene on all the units in its Co-Ex Master co-extrusion systems, which create high-value products by adding a center filling into a cereal outer.

Co-extrusion systems can be added to virtually any new or existing food extrusion line to make a wide variety of pillows, sticks, bites, tubes and bars in attractive shapes and with fillings of virtually any sweet or savory flavor.    

Visual appeal of the product has been enhanced by adding a rotary insert to each stream of the co-extrusion die where extrudate and filling are combined. This allows the position of the seam on the pillow to be adjusted so that the unattractive dark line which features on many products is hidden.

On the cream feed system, the introduction of progressive cavity pumps transform control. Metering accuracy is precise; product conveying is gentler and back flow has been eliminated; a broad range of viscosities can be handled; and the pumps are suitable for high pressure. There is also a temperature controlled hopper with a recirculation system to maintain the filling in optimum condition, even if the line stops.

The unit is fully stainless, features hygienic design throughout and the time required to carry out a full clean has been dramatically reduced with the introduction of an Assisted Cleaning system.  A three-stage process uses an external boost pump to circulate water through the pumps and pipework at 1.5m/s to ensure thorough material removal. Operators are guided through the entire process by prompts on the HMI. Cleaning may be carried out in situ or the unit can be wheeled away for washdown and cleaning off-line. Flowmeters have been added to the list of optional extras

On the crimping unit, the introduction of servo control combines extreme accuracy with operational simplicity. The crimping rolls are directly driven by Independent servo motors allowing them to be easily removed, replaced and synchronized while servo gap adjustment provides accurate and repeatable positioning with by-pass for set up. The precision of servo control means that it is much easier to align the cutting blades for precision cutting.

Co-extruded products can be positioned as cereal, pet or infant foods as well as mainstream snacks. Bite-size pieces and bars are being marketed as confectionery and count lines.

Fillings can be of virtually any color or flavor—sweet and savory creams, fruit pastes, cheese and chocolate praline are typical. Exotic flavors, plus glazings, frostings or chocolate coating, add even more appeal.  

The outer shell can appear to be plain or stringy, with surface textures such as grooves and highlights. The product stream can be cut into appealing shapes such as chevrons, fish and faces.   

Co-extruded products can be made in any length, from 12 to 120mm.