MUNICH — For certain products, continuous mixing is a key technology for an efficient process.

While continuous mixing carries its own direct benefits, automated ingredient handling that continually feeds the mixer is a necessary tool for a streamlined production. In fact, precise ingredient automation is a critical factor for producing optimum quality output from the continuous mix.

During the iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS conference held online Oct. 25-28, Jason Stricker, VP of sales and marketing for Shick Esteve, and Mikaël Roussière, sales manager for bakery and food process at VMI — both members of the Linxis Group — outlined the benefits of linking ingredient automation into a continuous process.


“In a continuous process, the easiest way to think about it is constantly delivering the ingredients required for your hourly throughput, rather than large amounts going into the mixer three to six times per hour,” Stricker said. “We’re talking about very small, minute-by-minute additions into the process for both the dry and liquid portions.”

In this type of process, bulk ingredients are either brought into a continuous mixer through individual streams or they are pre-blended, depending on the formula. Liquid slurries are often used, and, at times, minor or micro dry ingredients are liquified before coming into the mix.

Because a continuous mixer does not always have a standard configuration, it can be almost adjustable to the footprint of the bakery.

“Think of continuous mixing as the meeting of the recipe, the process and the building,” Roussière said.

“Think of continuous mixing as the meeting of the recipe, the process and the building,” said Mikaël Roussière.


The advantage of this type of technology is that continuous flow, which leads to improved accuracy. But that must start with the accuracy of the ingredients.

“The idea of having a continuous flow is critical to achieve accuracy as well as consistency of quality,” Roussière said. “You can make high-quality dough by limiting the amount of dough in progress coming into the mixing chamber. When you make something smaller, even when the throughput per hour is very large, it’s possible to achieve that quality.”

While the general assumption is that ingredient automation is only for bulk scaling, accuracy with minor and micro ingredients is critical for a continuous process. It’s just a matter of shifting away from a more traditional mindset.

“One area where customers have trouble visualizing a continuous process is with those minor ingredients,” Stricker added. “It’s fairly simple to visualize delivering bulk components — typically flour of some sort — but handling a recipe that might have 10, 12 or 15 minor ingredients can be a little more challenging.”


Depending on the product and formula, bakers can automate micro ingredients with weights as low as a half-pound or even a pound or two through a micro ingredient weigh scale. Other options include weighing larger minor ingredients of 5, 10 or even 100 lbs. in a batch process ahead of the feeding point.

“A good approach when dealing with multiple minor ingredients is to pre-blend them in a batch process ahead of the continuous mixer,” Stricker noted. “They can then be conveyed to a loss-in-weight feeder and introduced as a single stream along with the bulk component.”

At the Linxis North American Technology Center in Kansas City, MO, bakers can test proof-of-concept of the continuous system outlined in this presentation.

To further streamline a continuous process, Shick Esteve offers Clarity, a suite of software that controls production management, data management, minor and micro ingredients, scheduling, lot tracking and all other reporting features on an easily accessible single screen.

For more information on how ingredient automation can enhance the continuous mixing process, visit the Shick Esteve booth and the VMI booth at the iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS event.