It takes extensive experience to determine which belt works best with specific bakery products. Ashworth provides recommendations in terms of materials, design, and engineering. The choice will be the result of an extensive checklist and case-by-case analysis.
Ashworth has been manufacturing baking bands for 75 years, all translating into experience in selecting the right belt for each application. Here are the key points to consider when selecting a metal belt the specialist shared with us, having in mind that its approach is very much solution-based, and Ashworth tailors each belt to specifically meet the requirements of its customers.
“When determining the correct belt, materials and design that best meet our customer needs, we review the current situation, their goals and parameters,” said Dale Jeavons, Factory Representative Manager EMEA. “These are all imperative considerations for successful recommendations.”
According to Jeavons, the following key factors are important when specifying the correct oven belt:
- Be aware of the processing temperature – this is product-specific
- Consider the number of zones and the temperature of each heating zone
- Method of heating – direct fire, infrared, forced air, etc.
- The weight and size of the product – these parameters determine how strong the belt needs to be, allowing for maximum belt tension
- Consider the lateral weave and wire diameter. Remember, the cross-sectional area of the belt is the strongest part of the belt.
- Belt path
- Belt strength required
- Product support required
- Condition of the product when placed on the belt
- The ingredients used in the product. If you have a product with high-fat content, you need to choose a solid steel band rather than woven wire. Fat is harder to clean from a mesh belt. Avoid product getting stuck in the mesh — this is particularly true with chocolate chip cookies. Ashworth’s CB5 is perfect for savory crackers, for example.
- The belt support structure must be adequate. This is a case-by-case consideration, and it will determine the width of the belt, its load capacity, and how the load is distributed on the belt. Take note that this is an important consideration, especially with breads.
- Belt speed: belts can operate up to 30 meters per minute (or faster), on a straight run conveyor for an oven.
- Terminal transfers also have an impact on the choice of the baking belt. Consider the terminal transfer, as a rule of thumb, the closer the crimps the tighter the transfer. The longitudinal pitch of the belt has an impact on the terminal and transfer roller diameter.
- The open area of the belt – to allow cooking gases to escape.
- The type of drive and diameter of drive rollers or sprockets – some belts are friction-driven (the bigger the friction drive, the better for more contact). Positive (sprocket) driven belts often use smaller diameters.
- Tracking and control devices
Read the full article in Baking+Biscuit International, issue 4 (2021).