Mixing is a necessity in the production of bread and most often times the spiral mixer is the choice of artisan bread bakers. This is because spiral mixers are more efficient than many other types of mixers for dough based products but at the same time are gentle enough on lean artisan dough. Almost every bakery equipment manufacturer offers a spiral mixer and at many different price levels and many different quality levels. Some manufacturers offer gear driven bowls while others use friction wheels to turn the bowl. Some of them use all stainless steel bowls pressed out of a single piece of steel while others choose to weld together their bowls for a more affordable option.
When buying a spiral mixer you should keep in mind the amount of hours per day you plan to use the machine. Spiral mixers generally fall into categories like a pickup truck would; Low Duty, Medium Duty, and Heavy Duty. An honest sales person will help you distinguish between the classes and help you make an informed decision. Needless to say don’t buy a Low Duty Mixer because of price and expect to operate it for 3 shifts per day without failure for any period of time.
FIXED BOWL SPIRAL MIXERS
Fixed bowl mixers are what most artisan bakers start with; it’s great to at least have one in your arsenal. A lot of bakeries grow to producing many thousands of pounds per day and still use fixed bowl mixers. They do require more work because the dough must be pulled manually out of the bowl after each batch before starting another new batch. They typically range in size from 80 lb dough capacity to 500 lb dough capacity.
REMOVABLE BOWL SPIRAL MIXERS
Removable bowl mixers mix the same as the fixed bowl mixer and often come in similar sizes however they come with the advantage of being able to roll the bowl away from the mixing head and allow another bowl to be placed in the head for mixing. Often time’s bakeries will purchase numerous bowls and use them for pre-scaling of ingredients and also for fermentation of the final dough. Most often the removable bowl mixer is paired with a bowl lift for dumping the dough onto a table for processing or dumping directly into a hopper for dividing.
When choosing a removable bowl mixer make sure you have enough space to roll the bowl out of the mixer’s head to where the dough will be handled.
BOWL LIFT or BOWL ELEVATOR
The bowl lift is often paired with the removable Bowl Mixer for depositing onto a table for manually dividing into dough tubs or to deposit into a hopper for chunking or dividing. It is important to know what height you want to deposit onto because bowl lifts are not adjustable, in most cases and they are most often bolted to the ground. There are a few manufacturers that offer mobile bowl lifts at a premium price
Tilt Mixers are a hybrid of fixed bowl mixers and removable bowl mixers. In this case the mixer itself is fitted with a hydraulic lift that tilts the entire mixer up and over allowing the dough to be dumped onto a table or a low hopper for dividing. Tilt mixers have the advantage of saving space while still be able to dump out the dough quickly to free the mixer up for next batch of dough. Tilt mixers are often more affordable than buying a removable bowl mixer along with a bowl lift however they do restrict some flexibility by not allowing the transport of the dough to a different work space.