By Jennifer Hicks
SPECIAL REPORT: Mixing Messages
First, keep an eye on your product specs and volume when you go looking at new 60-qt. mixers. Then think about transmissions.
If you’re facing a mixer purchase this year, you’re most likely looking for a 60-qt. machine. You and a lot of other people. The 60-quarter ranks as the most commonly sold size in mixers today. But since heavy-duty mixers last a good long while, it may have been some time since you last needed to flip through mixer specs and sort out the data.
That’s why we’re here. If you visit the Buyers Guide on our Web site, www.fermag.com, you’ll see there’s a host of mixer suppliers listed. Since we didn’t have space in this story to cover a host, we set to paring the list.
To do this we asked our industry sources for a short list of the big guys, the folks selling the most mixers in both commercial and noncommercial settings, and at that point our list shrank to a group of five: Berkel Co., Blakeslee, Hobart Corp., Univex Corp. and Varimixer/Enodis. Thus the sidebars in this story cover 60-qt. mixers from these companies.
In addition to these share leaders, there’s another group of suppliers you should know about who offer heavy-duty 60-qt. equipment at various price points. Though not featured here, you might also consider Dito/Electrolux, Globe Food Equipment Co. (which bought the Spar mixer line last year), Fleetwood Food Equipment, Intedge Industries, Robot Coupe (which introduced a brand new 60-qt. machine early this year) and Thunderbird Food Machinery. Their Web site addresses appear at the end of this story.
What Do You Really Need?
The 60-qt. mixer has been such a fixture over the decades that when replacement time comes, many operators just go out and start looking for another 60. Thing is, over time menus can shift significantly, as can volume requirements. If you’re replacing an older 60-qt. unit, be sure that’s the size you still need.
Figuring isn’t too difficult. Most manufacturers and equipment dealers can provide sizing charts to help you based on what you’re mixing, how much and how often.
Let’s say you’re working primarily with pizza dough, whipping up a variety of doughs for thin-, medium- and thick-crust pies. Right off you know that dough for a thin pizza has different requirements than dough for a medium or thick pie; you’ll use less water for the thin batch. Less water means stiffer dough and more stress put on the mixer.
To get the right balance of water and flour, suppliers talk about absorption ratio, the weight of water divided by the weight of flour, and the percentage that equation produces. With dough for a thin crust you’re looking at an AR of 40%, while a medium-thickness dough calls for a 50% AR and a thick dough requires a 60% AR. The lower the percentage, the less water involved.
The math is more technical than we’ll review here, and suppliers have all this charted, but here’s an idea of how this works. If you’re using a standard 50-lb. bag of flour and you want to make a medium dough (50% AR), you’ll need to add 25 lbs. of water. (Note that 1 gal. of water equals 8.33 lbs., so 25 lbs. of water is 3 gals.) With that much flour and water you’ll get 75 lbs. of dough, which your basic 60-qt. mixer can handle nicely at a low speed.
You’ll also have to answer questions related to water tempice water requires a reduction in batch sizeand whether you’re using high gluten flour, which also influences how large your batches can be.
So before you fall in love with a new 60-qt. machine, seek guidance on the product, sizing and volume questions. Your supplier can pull out all the data you need to be sure your sizing is right. After a review you might find a couple of 40-qt. units are more in order for your operation, or maybe you need to step up to an 80.
Checking Under The Hood
Aside from options, you’ll spend most of your time considering the type of transmission you need. Strip away a mixer’s outer skin and you’ll find, in very simple terms, a gear- or belt-driven system. Best to reacquaint yourself with the ins and outs of such transmissions before you place a purchase order.
Gear-driven machines typically come with speeds fixed at the factory. In most cases, you’ll need to stop this type of machine to change speeds (although Hobart’s new Legacy, a gear-driven unit, allows for speed shifts on the fly). Generally speaking, the higher the horsepower rating on a gear-driven machine, the more likely the mixer will operate reliably while tackling heavy loads.
Belt-driven machines, also called variable-speed mixers, use a reinforced belt to drive a pulley arm that moves the agitator. With this machine you do not have to stop to change speeds.
There’s also a hybrid system, offered by Univex Corp., that uses both a cogged belt and gears. The belt, supported by torque-sensing pulleys, transmits power to a set of planetary gears and voila! your agitator turns. This unit also can shift on the fly.
And Then The Accessories
With any of the mixers here you’ll get a standard package that includes the bowl and bowl guard, a batter beater, wire whip and dough hook.
Beyond that, you’ll want to consider additional mixing or chopping toolsingredient chutes, meat grinders, veggie and cheese slicers, pastry knives and other whipsif your operation requires them and as budgets allow.
Remember that you can use smaller bowls with a 60-qt. mixer if you occasionally need to mix smaller batches. So think ahead, and ante up for a 40- or 30-qt. bowl and the associated adaptors and accessories if you think you’ll need them.
And from a handling standpoint, you might also need a bowl truck or dolly for heavy loads. Berkel and Varimixer make their bowl dollies standard with the PM60 and W60 packages, respectively; Blakeslee and Univex offer a bowl dolly as an added-cost option; and Hobart adds a bowl truck to its deluxe accessory package.
Hands Good, Injuries Bad
We just can’t say enough about safety when it comes to oper-ating these big mixers. Cage-like bowl guards or safety rings are available on all of the mixers discussed here, but owning the guard isn’t the same thing as actually making sure it’s used properly. A mixer of the 60-qt. size is a powerful machine that shouldn’t be tampered with while in operation, even with a guard in place.
Unfortunately, over the years we’ve heard of operators reaching right around bowl guards during operation to pluck a sample of dough. That’s not a practice you want your employees to see or get into the habit of. The results can be messy bad.
And that’s one reason the Occupational Safety and Health Administration developed Standard 29CFR 1910.212.
Its general requirements for machines specify that “one or more methods of machine guarding” must be provided to protect the operator and other employees from hazards, including those created by rotating machine parts.
So if OSHA requires safety guards that “prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle,” your training should instruct staffers not to try to be smarter than the guard. No poking hands or utensils between the guard’s slats. Their limbs and your business are riding on compliance.
Berkel PM60 Series
Keeping the field interesting, Berkel Co. now comes to market with two options in the PM60 line, the PM60 itself with a 3-speed, 4-hp motor, and the PM60-6 running six speeds powered by 4 hp. The offerings plant Berkel firmly in the mid tier of mixer pricing and make the company more competitive than ever before in this category.
A little history: From the time of our first 60-qt. mixer story in 1997 until early this year, the company sold units supplied by another company in this group and simply badged them with the Berkel name. Thus, buying a Berkel at that time would have produced the same specs and capabilities as the competitor’s offering.
The new PM60 line, however, comes out of Berkel’s renewed focus on selling its own affordable, heavy-duty mixers without skimping on features or capabilities a busy operation demands.
In terms of operation, the PM60s rely on wide-faced, hardened alloy steel helical gears to deliver energy at the pre-selected factory-set three or six speeds. Standard features on both the PM60 and the PM60-6 include moisture-resistant switches and a no-voltage release that prevents accidental startup following a power outage.
There’s also a 30/60-minute timer that automatically shuts off the machine in any speed after the set time has elapsed.
On the safety side your standard package includes a bowl guard interlock that prevents mixer operation if the guard is open or the bowl is lowered.
For more details contact Berkel at www.berkel.com or 800/348-0251.
Blakeslee DD Series
With a long history of providing mixing equipment, Blakeslee continues to offer the DD Series in this category. You can choose from the DD-60, which sports a 4-speed transmission powered by a 2-hp motor; the DD-60-PM with two speeds and three horses; and the DD-60-XT-300, equipped with 4-speed transmission and 3-hp motor.
Power is transmitted to the planetary mixing head through specially designed, spiral-beveled, hardened-alloy steel gears. Because the unit is gear-driven, it must be stopped to change speeds and then restarted. Along with this design, a unique electro-mechanical interlock disconnects power entirely if the speed selector is moved while the mixer is running.
Another safety feature: The motor on a Blakeslee mixer cannot be started when the speed selector lever is in neutral position. This design prevents the unit from ever being started accidentally if someone bumps the selector lever.
Optional equipment includes veggie and cheese slicers, a meat chopper, a bowl extension ring and splash cover for all bowl sizes, a bowl truck, adjustable timers, a power bowl lift and what Blakeslee calls a tall column, which allows for bowl retrieval without having to remove the agitator.
For more details on the DD Series, contact Blakeslee at www.blakesleeinc.com or 708/656-0660.
Last summer the mixer field was all aflutter when Hobart Corp. debuted Legacy. With basic technology in the mixer category virtually unchanged since the 1950s, the new Legacy represented a giant step forward in terms of design and operation.
Legacy is the result of a comprehensive design effort. Hobart went to high-volume commercial and noncommercial customers and asked what mixer improvements they wanted to see. Based on their input, Hobart specified the performance criteria and designed the Legacy literally from the ground up.
The results focus heavily on ease of use. Ergonomic enhancements began with a swing-out bowl design that eases the adding of ingredients and removal of product. A power bowl lift was added to make it easier to raise and lower a fully loaded bowl at the touch of a button, and that bowl is positioned 6” higher for better access.
Meanwhile, what Hobart calls its Shift-On-The-Fly Controls allow you to shift mixing speeds up or down without stopping the mixer, and Agitation Technology lets you start the mixer in slow speed to stir ingredients before full-out mixing. In addition to helping you mix more evenly from the get-go, this slow-start feature controls ingredient splash-out.
The Legacy offers a new, heavy-duty 2.7-hp switched reluctance motor, says Hobart, as well as higher torque at lows speed, greater immunity to temperature extremes and improved energy efficiency. Standard accessories include a bowl guard.
Explore Legacy’s capabilities further by logging onto the Hobart Web site, www.hobartcorp.com, or calling 800/960-1190.
Univex Corp. steps up with a hybrid variable-speed design in its 3-hp SRM60+, which allows you to change speeds without stopping the mixing action. Under the skin of the SRM60+ you’ll find a belt that’s supported by torque-sensing pulleys. The belt transmits power to a gear box, and the hardened alloy steel gears in the box then transmit power to the mixing head.
The torque-sensing nature of the pulleys is key, as the design changes belt tension under heavier loads, and thus prevents belt slippage, says Univex.
Further, the SRM60+’s continuously variable transmission allows the speed of the beater shaft to vary infinitely between 80 and 320 rpm. This means that in addition to making use of four locked-in speeds (80, 150, 230 and 320 rpm), you can move the speed control lever to any in-between speed during operation.
Important updates to the 60-qt. offering include an improved two-piece, stainless steel Swing Ring safety guard that opens wide for full access to the bowl. It also removes easily as two halves for cleaning, and each half fits neatly into a dish machine. The Swing Ring comes standard.
You also get low voltage protection to prevent accidental startup after a power failure, as well as interlock switches that protect your staffers if the safety guard is open or the bowl is lowered.
For more details on the SRM60+, head to www.univexcorp.com or call 800/258-6358.
Varimixer Model W60
Long-time mixer specialist Varimixer, a division of Enodis Corp., provides the 3-hp W60.
Nosing around inside the W60’s transmission column, you’ll find a variable-speed V-belt system based on precision machine-cast iron pulleys. Belt slippage isn’t a problem, says Varimixer, because the spring-loaded pulleys automatically adjust the tension of the belt over time. You’ll get exactly the tension you need per load, and by nature the mixer’s transmission allows for speed changes on the fly.
Standard features on the W60 include arms to cradle and move the bowl; you raise and lower the arms manually via a single lever when you need to add ingredients or install/remove the bowl. And the unit’s designed so that you don’t need an adaptor if you want to use downsized bowls.
Safety features include a standard bowl screen (Varimixer’s term for bowl guard), auto shutoff when the bowl is lowered, and no-voltage release for those days when the power goes out. Your mixer won’t start accidentally when the power comes back on.
Other 60-qt. mixer options from Varimixer include the W60P and the W60PI. Designed with the same drive system, the W60P steps up to a 4-hp motor and offers a uniquely designed dough hook to help limit splash-out. It comes standard with thermal overload protection and no-voltage release.
Meanwhile the W60PI is a single-speed unit for maximum-capacity applications. The unit’s dough hook turns at a constant 55 rpm, which is an ideal speed for the toughest pizza and pretzel doughs.
For more on the Varimixer/Enodis offerings, consult www.varimixer.com or call 800/222-1138.
Learn More About Mixers
Contact information for Berkel, Blakeslee, Hobart, Univex and Varimixer appears in their individual sidebars. The companies below can also help you in your mixer search. For a full list of international mixer suppliers, visit our Buyers Guide at www.fermag.com.
Globe Food Equipment Co.
Robot Coupe USA
Thunderbird Food Machinery