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I currently have two table top temperers, which are plenty for my production from home. I am considering setting up a commercial space in which to manufacture in order to meet health standards for re-sale.

Can anyone provide me with what types of machines they have used for start-up? I was looking at Hilliards but read one comment that said their 'Hand Coater' might be overkill for shell moulded chocolates, which is what I do most. I want to get into bars as well, and so it would seem a machine built for mould filling would be best. Is a large 'tempering/holding tank' and vibrating table the way to go? I could really use some help here. Much appreciated...

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Hi Amber. Sorry about the delay in response, I was out of the country buying cacao for a while.

THe vibrators that I was talking about are like this: http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=m38.l1313&_nkw=lab+...

These are all new and low end, but cost less than $100. For simply vibrating molds, these things are great. Also, what Rae Stang says about the molds vibrating off is true, so you have to be prepared to make at least some kind of simple modification to make it work for you. For polycarbonate molds, I simply bent up the ends of the platform to make little wings that hold the mold in place.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the larger commercial vibrators (at least the one on my JKV) are very loud when a mold is vibrating and bouncing around on them. The small lab models are nearly silent. Im sure this fix isnt for everyone, but it really works well for me.

Good Luck!
Hallot
Now thats a price I can get into!

This kind of small stuff is perfect for me, as I am working in a small capacity. I really appreciate your getting back to me. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what you were talking about! (And learned a lot about lab equipment too!)

Amber
Hi to you all,

If you need any information the Selmi machines, please visit www.selmi-group.it or let me know.

You should all learn how easy it is to use these machines and how easy it is to install one enrobing unit on the tempering. Flexibility of the machines and the perfect temper are the qualitities of these units

Tom Bauweraerts
Hi Hallot,

I ran accross this post about hand wrapping bars. After spending about two years avoiding requests from our customers, we finally decided to do some bars. We finally got the process down for molding the bars, but we are still not satified with the way that we are wrapping them. We are using paper backed foil, but we still can't figure out how the wrap the bar so that the foil doesn't get all wrinkled--plain foil was even worse. Any tips or step-by-step photos would be appreciated.

Thanks
Lloyd Martin
Chocolate Visions
Hi Clay,
I'm in the process of looking for a spot to lease etc. The part that you said more start ups get the refrigeration wrong got my attention. I'd love to hear any insight on the subject.
Luis
Luis:

When thinking about refrigeration you need to balance capacity against required work surface against the AC load.

Even if you are not cramped for space in the kitchen seriously consider getting lowboy (under counter) refrigerator and freezer units. They might not have quite the same capacity as vertical units, but the tops are work surfaces and you can put shelves on the wall above them. Tall units make the space feel smaller (especially if they are situated right by the entrance into the kitchen) and you can't work on top of them or store stuff above them.

You also need to think about your AC capacity (and the cost of running it) relative to the time it takes to crystallize your chocolate on a tray in a speed rack. In my experience, it makes a lot of sense to get a specialized chocolate holding cabinet as they make crystallization time constant. You can put items immediately after they are completed into the cabinet and they will be ready to take out in 5-10 minutes or less (for all but very large molded pieces). Then you can move them to a speed rack if you're really cranking production. I have one consulting client with a 20-rack holding cabinet (30 and 40 rack cabinets are available) in a small (about 170 sf) kitchen and production is easily 3x what she would have been able to achieve if she had to rely on speed racks and the AC that the landlord provided.

The use of a holding cabinet enables you to keep the entire kitchen space at the upper end of the safe working range (68F); the cabinet will be in the mid-upper 50s with a constant 40% humidity, perhaps saving a lot on energy. I have a good relationship with Irinox and can get very good prices for them.

Don't invest in a conventional range/oven. Use induction burners and look for a convection oven that vents the absolute minimum amount of hot air into the space. By staying away from gas, you may eliminate the need for ventilation and fire suppression (but that that's up to the local health and fire departments).

If you need a walk in, there are very cheap ways to make them if you are interested in knowing about those.

:: Clay

PS. Scotts Valley. On the way from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. Nice location. I think there's another ChocolateLife member located out that way.
I had sent the following post to clay, but meant to post it here. Below is the original question, clay's response, and the my follow up question:

Hi Clay,
I'm looking for a cooling tunnel solution or cooling cabinet for our factory. I have a limited budget for this but I need something that can speed up our production. We're doing 60 kg and are trying to switch over to a hammer mill, 3 roll mill, and Carle 400kg conche. We need something that can help us now, and it would be nice if it would also not be obsolete in a few months. Any ideas? Thanks and all the best.
Jo

-----------
Jo,
The question I have for you is about space. A cooling tunnel will require at least 3m (preferably 4) by about 300-400mm not including space around it to work. Ideally, it's situated right where the bars count out of the depositor. Do you have that kind of space?

Alternatively, you will want to build some sort of "walk in" where you can move the bars very soon after they have been been molded. You'd have shelves in the walk-in and move the bars on trays (e.g., sheet pans) and put them on the shelves. How big you need depends on how many bars you're doing in each molding/depositing shift. 400kg at a time is roughly 4000 bars at a go.

Another constraint is the number of molds you have. If you don't have hundreds of molds you'll want the cooling tunnel as once the molds come out of the tunnel you can unmold the bars and reuse the molds right away.

There are two major parts of a cooling tunnel:

a) the transport (conveyor)
b) the air-handling/cooling system

The conveyor is covered to reduce energy costs by containing the cool air.

The real expense in a cooling tunnel is that the temperature starts out at ambient room temp, cools down quickly by 5-10 degrees, stays there, and then warms up so that the temperature at the end of the tunnel is again at ambient room temp. The challenge is how to duplicate the temperature change inexpensively. Assuming you have the conveyor.
:: Clay

-----------

Clay,
I just wanted to clarify to you what I was looking for and why I was asking you. I have an open floor plan right now of 210 sq meters and 4 meter high ceilings. Space is not the issue-temperature control is starting to be. The factory is a cement box basically. I saw that you had connections with Irinex and was interested in pricing. I have a large speed rack that could be placed in a walk in/ temperature controlled roomed (I would build it out of dry wall with insulation and run an air conditioner unit inside( in israel they are the type that has the compressor outside of the house and is essentially a dehumidifier. I wanted to compare $$$ for a cooling cabinet to a cooling tunnel which it seems would need to terminate in the temperature controlled room (it was 25 deg celsius in the factory today and we're not in the summer yet). We have enough molds to go through 15kg at a time and the savage tank/depositor holds 55kg. We're not at 400 kg yet, but that seems to be the direction we are heading. It would be great if we had a solution that could grow with us.
Jo
So we have built a temperature controlled area that is 12 meters by 4 meters and are have the ac installed this week. I've spoken to several different people about cooling tunnels and the consensus seems to be that we need a 11 meter cooling tunnel that has 500mm belt (about 4 molds). We haven't found anything even remotely close to our budget. The 8/12 meter cooling tunnels that we have seen are all single ac no multi zone and we are making bars, not pralines. I'm not sure if the single ac with 8 or 12 meters is enough for 100 g bars. I've been looking into Irinox and would be interested in pricing. I'm also tempted just to get an open refrigerator (the type used for dairy in the supermarkets) as they seem to also have dehumidifying effects. Any thoughts?
Jo:

Consider making your own. Here's a source for the pulley and you can get the belting you need from then so you can make exactly what you need and they can help you design it.

You'll need to build an enclosure than then need to source low-volume air movement and very low capacity cooling (a 10 m tunnel that is .6m x .25m is very small volume).

Try this company for the cooling/heat exchange.

Shouldn't be too difficult to rig something up. I'd start off with simple three zone and don't worry too much about how distinct the boundaries are.

:: Clay
I dont use a cooling tunnel - I have a cold room built from 80/20. However, 11 meters seems really short for 100g bars. I would have thought something twice that would be required. If you do end up making one 11 meters, I would love to hear how it works, as that is short enough to fit into my space and I would consider making the same.
Good luck.
The required length of the tunnel depends on many factors.

While total weight is one, surface/mass ratio is another. A thinner bar will require less time than a thicker one. The thinner bar will be larger in the other two dimensions so there will be fewer cavities per mold - perhaps even as few as one; I've seen many bar molds with only one or two cavities in them.

The mold itself plays a part. A thin thermoform mold probably transfers heat faster than a thicker polycarbonate mold.

It's also important to consider the speed of the conveyor. If you're running 1cm/sec then the time to get through an 11m tunnel is 1100 seconds, or nearly 20 minutes. You should be able to speed/slow the conveyor to get the time you need for the weight/thickness of the bar. Shorter tunnel, slower conveyor speed.
Hi Hallot,
We offer a cooling tunnel with double layer, meaning that the mould enter the tunnel of 8 meter and come back in the same tunnel. This means 16 meters of cooling of which you can control the speed to have optimal results.

You can also use the cooling tunnel on a very flexibel way for enrobing.

The total set up of this is around 10 meters long... and .... you need only one person to operate from moulding to demoulding the tablets.

Please let me know if this can be of your interest... tom.bauweraerts@selmi-group.it
Very best regards,

Tom

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