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    Passionate about continuous mixing for over 20 years..

    Sobatech is the International leader in designing, manufacturing & commissioning innovative Continuous Mixing Systems for the food and non-food industry. Sobatech’s equipment & expertise helps to simplify your mixing process, reduce labor, cut costs and improve quality consistency.

    Frequently Asked Questions - The past few months we collected your most frequently asked questions and summarized them in the news item below. What capacities can be obtained on a continuous mixer? Sobatech’s smallest continuous mixer produces about 100 kg of dough per hour. The largest system exceeds 10.000 kg of dough per hour. Of course everything in between can be obtained. How do you control product quality on a continuous mixer? Sobatech’s continuous mixers constantly measure the (mechanical) energy that is put into the dough. This so called specific mechanical energy (SME) can be expressed as Wh/kg and functions as an objective parameter to constantly control dough quality and development. Example: imagine a final dough temperature increases due to a higher ingredient temperature as a result of seasonal changes. A higher dough temperature means a lower product viscosity. A lower product viscosity results in less product resistance and therefore a lower SME value. As the continuous mixing system constantly measures this SME value; it functions as a constant control for product quality. Why should I consider Continuous mixing over Batch mixing? Generally continuous mixing is chosen when food producers want to increase food quality consistency while keeping operational costs down. Continuously mixed dough is always the same age when it reaches the next step in the production process. With batch mixing, the time between each batch results in dough variations that might be visible throughout the entire production process. Continuous mixing is also valued for its high automation grade; resulting in a product quality that is independent of the skills/performance of the operator. What kind of products can be made on a continuous mixer? Any product that can be made on a traditional batch mixer, can be made on a continuous mixer. Click here to see a variety of product applications or contact us to find out which continuous mixer suits your production process best. Can I produce different kinds of products on one and the same mixer? Yes, it is possible to produce a variety of different products on one and the same mixing system. the flexibility you have with time on a batch mixer, you have with RPM (shaft speed) on a continuous mixer. Read more about continuous flexibility in this news item. What does a continuous mixing system cost? There are still quite some misconceptions in regards to how pricing on a continuous mixer compares to the pricing on a batch mixer. The root cause of this lies in the fact that the cost of a continuous mixing system is often compared to the cost of a batch mixer. Apart from the actual mixer, a continuous mixing system also includes the automatic weighing of the solid and liquid ingredients. Often the price of such complete system is compared to the price of solely a batch mixer (without automatic dosing). Dosing directly at the mixer (in case of a continuous mixing process) results in greater automation and accuracy. Therefore, it is concluded that on the short term this might results in an higher initial investment but on the long term, due to improved consistency and a higher automation grade, in a lower cost of ownership. Continuous mixing payback opportunities come from a number of different sources including increased yield, increased throughput, increased quality consistency, reduced labor cost and reduced downstream handling equipment. Please contact us for your cost of ownership calculation. How can dough temperature be controlled? Generally, dough temperature is controlled by regulating the temperature of the process water. If that does not give the required result, Sobatech’s continuous mixers can be equipped with double jackets to effectively heat or cool the mixing chamber. Lastly, for extreme dough temperatures, Sobatech uses its HOT & COOL technology. How do I clean my continuous mixer? Sobatech offers a fully automatic cleaning in place (CIP) system on their continuous mixers. Check out this process here. How do I switch to a different recipe? The process of switching between two different recipes depends on whether the second recipe can simply push out the first recipe. In that case, we talk about ‘minor changeovers’ that can be done by the push of a button. In case a complete washdown is required; the system will first automatically clean in place whereafter the second recipe is activated. Please note, to what extent the recipes differ; maybe a separate dosing system is required. Read more about continuous flexibility in this news item. How do I know if I run the correct recipe? One of the advantages of continuous mixing is the fully automated dosing solutions that are part of it. This because todays gravimetric dosing solutions are the most accurate feeding technologies available. Sobatech dedicated years of time and efforts in designing gravimetric (e.g. loss-in-weight) feeding technologies that are accurate to within .25%. Besides that, the continuous dosing technology constantly monitors all ingredient streams and collects data to guarantee recipe accuracy. How does the dough come out of the continuous mixer? On a continuous mixer, dough comes out as a continuous stream of product. This means there is no need for downstream equipment to resize the batches. The dough coming out of a continuous mixer can be directly fed into the receiving hopper of the dough makeup line. What is the mixing time on a continuous mixing system? On a continuous mixing system, throughput is controlled by the rate ingredients are fed into the mixer. Mixing time is generally a term related to batch; since it is used to adjust the level of kneading intensity on a batch mixer. On a continuous mixer, the energy input is changed by altering the RPM of the mixing tools. Increasing the RPM of the mixing tool will result in a higher kneading intensity but does not, without a certain bandwidth, influence throughput. This means throughput and kneading intensity are independent variables on a continuous mixing system. This as opposed to batch mixing where a higher kneading intensity is achieved by increasing mixing time; which in turn decreases throughput.
    Batch vs. Continuous mixing - When the first Industrial bakeries came into being, batch mixers could satisfy the bakers needs and wants. However, as food demand grew so did the size of the food production factories and conclusively production output. As a result, newer technologies can produce larger quantities of dough (up to 12.000 kg/hr) in one and the same system. These continuous mixing systems are fully automated and require almost no manpower, have an accurate recipe control and a consistent product quality. YOU MUST BE THINKING: 'WHY DIDN'T WE HEAR OF THIS TECHNOLOGY SOONER'? The answer is that until around 20 years ago, the ingredient handling and weighing technologies were not advanced enough to feed the mixer at rates high enough to meet the demand of the continuous mixing process. The past two decades, this technology has advanced immensely enabling an extremely accurate dosing of seperate ingredients into the continuous mixing system. Consequently, more and more bakeries question whether to choose batch or a continuous mixer. CAREFUL COMPARISON Batch mixing is seen as the most established and traditional way of blending raw materials – simply because these mixers were available when continuous did not exist yet. The development of improved mixing, controlling and metering resulted in continuous mixing systems that are reliable, easy-to-use and able to provide a consistent product quality. PRICING There are still quite some misconceptions in regards to how pricing on a continuous mixer compares to the pricing on a batch mixer. The rootcause of this misunderstanding lies in the fact that the cost of a continuous mixing system is often compared to the cost of a batch mixer. A continuous mixer supplier generally offers a complete system which includes weighing of the ingredients and the actual mixing of the product. Often the price of such system is compared to the price of solely a batch mixer (without the dosing). Dosing directly at the mixer (in case of a continuous mixing proces) results in greater automation and accuracy. Therefore, it is concluded that on the short term this might results in an higher initial investment but on the long term, due to improved consistency and a higher automation grade, in a lower cost of ownership. PRODUCT QUALITY While continuous mixing of dough is readily credited with operational and cost advantages, many food producers also select continuous mixing based on the promise of increased product consistency and quality. Creating dough in discrete batches will always introduce slight variations from batch to batch. While these seem manageable they will always lead to inconsistency over time. Trying to manage quality while chasing these variables will add to the already higher and ongoing labor cost of batch mixing. On top of the inherent variation introduced by the mixing process itself, batch mixing implies that the batch of dough will spend some amount of time waiting to be processed after being mixed. Dough is a living entity where chemical and physical changes take place from the time water is added to the dry ingredient until the product is finished baking.  The dough will change over that period of time due to aging, environmental conditions and the interactions of the seperate ingredients. These batch-to-batch dough variations result in varying piece weights which create inconsistencies during packaging. On a continuous mixing process there is a continuous stream of dough meaning every piece of dough has had the same fermentation process and age. This constant consistency is one of the largest benefits to continuous dough mixing and strongly contributes to the growing popularity. DOSING INGREDIENTS In case of batch mixing, the weighing of the ingredients can be done manually; saving significant costs on the short term. In case of continuous mixing, the dosing of raw materials is done automatically at the mixer and requires greater automation and accuracy. As a result, the product quality is independent of the skills of the operators. Even though, the initial investment of the automated ingredient weighing might be higher on a continuous mixing system; on the long term the improved weighing technology will represent significant cost savings. DOUGH DISCHARGE Batches of dough typically come in an unpractical form, meaning that additional equipment is required to resize the batches. This additional process step creates unnecessary shear and exposure of the dough. A continuous mixer creates continuous streams of dough that can be cut in-line. Generally on a continuous mixing process, there is no need for additional equipment to resize the batches. TESTING FACILITY Sobatech understands that organizing your production process in a new innovative way can be exciting. Therefore, Sobatech has its own testing facility allowing you to overcome possible perceived risks of changing to a different type of mixing.
    'An interview with our CEO' - A series of “An Interview With’’ will follow in the coming weeks. Through this series, we introduce to you the people behind our organization. We kick-off with Gilian Lekner, our founding father and CEO of Sobatech.  Could you introduce yourself and your position within Sobatech? My name is Gilian Lekner, founder of Sobatech. Officially my job title is CEO; however, within Sobatech, I prefer to have a flat organizational structure. This is reflected in the way we operate on a daily basis. For example, I am committed to several departments within the company such as R&D and sales. The leading role is more on the background, if necessary I will be the leader. When did you start your first company? I started my first company back in 1984, at the age of 24. At that time it was easier to start a company if you were willing to work hard and take risks. Nowadays it is more difficult because there are more rules and regulations. It is not only about your product anymore; you also have to be involved in legal and International matters. What was your motivation to become an entrepreneur? That is a personal question. I believe you should not be motivated to become an entrepreneur in itself; it is more in your genes and independent from what you studied. In my case I am not highly educated, but I did have a vision in life that I knew I could not follow with the education and background I had when I started. Therefore, the only way for me to follow that vision was to create my own value as an entrepreneur. What was your inspiration to start and develop a company in the food processing industry? Coincidence. Due to a broad interest, I have worked in a variety of different fields. For example, I started my first company within Industrial automation, was a machine builder and sold airplanes for a while. When I started, my specialism was mainly in the field of failed safe electrical and hydraulic systems. Working in this industry, I visited various companies and eventually ended up in the bakery. How did you go from seeing the first Industrial bakeries to founding Sobatech? I saw that most production processes within bakery were batch-oriented. This while all processes behind dough mixing were continuous and Industrial. This motivated me to immerse myself in a more automated way of mixing foods. This is what we now call: ‘continuous mixing’. The reason why I have focus on solely Sobatech for over 17 years now is that food (processing) keeps having my interest. Ingredients are living entities meaning that product behaviour can fluctuate every day. ‘Making food production processes more steady and controllable by supplying continuous mixing systems all over the world soon became my passion’. How would you describe Sobatech’s company values in two words? Innovation and Freedom. Innovation has top priority at Sobatech. In our opinion, we as Western countries, live in a too expensive area not to be innovative. Differentiating through innovation, design and state of the art equipment is something I value since day 1. Besides that, freedom is an important pillar for Sobatech. With a ‘free company culture’ we mean that every team member is free in what to do and how to organize their days; as long as they do their utmost best to reach the targets set at the end of the month. We have a flat organizational structure, something we value and strive to keep into our DNA when we are growing. Where did you get your inspiration from to develop your first products? Being a technician has always been in my blood; I have a high interest in how nature works and translate that into machinery. I am lucky to have always felt extremely motivated to be the best in regards to innovative technology in the field of food processing equipment. 'Actually, the best ideas were made spontaneous, for example in the plane. I often used air sick bags to sketch and visualize my ideas for Sobatech’.   With the experience you have at the moment, what advice would you give to your 25-year-old self? It is important to keep in mind that even if you believe that the products you develop make the world a better place, they also have to include a clear advantage to the potential buyers. Developing a product without tackling a clear need in the market will most probably not work out. What are the milestones you still want to achieve within your career? There does not pop a specific milestone to mind; I already experienced more than I ever thought I would. However, I do always feel that when my time comes, I want to have the feeling that I took full advantages of the knowledge and experience that I was given and that this had its effect on making the world a better place. What message would you give to (young) entrepreneurs all over the world? To take nothing for granted. Throughout life we will all experience ups and downs. I always taught my children to make sure that in times of prosperity; you should never forget how hard you had to work in times of adversity. The price of success is always a combination of dedication, hard work and an ongoing devotion to the things you want to see happen.

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