Watch out for these hidden costs in ice cream filling!
Producers aiming at low cost ice cream production are typically interested in two things: processing equipment that doesn’t require a large investment, and a solution that makes the best use of raw materials. This is a difficult equation to solve, if you also have an interest in reducing waste and achieving an attractive product.
Some raw materials are characterized by uneven quality, and this puts great demands on processing equipment. For example, in addition to the obvious need to keep cones away from moisture during processing (since that can cause changes in shape and/or make them brittle), the cone dispenser needs to handle challenges such as crumbs that affect the distance between cones in the stack and common flaws such as the bottom tip of the sleeve being twisted and thereby locking the cone underneath. The height of the stack also influences the pressure between cones. All these factors can affect cone separation and cause both recurring stops and large amounts of waste.
Simpler cone dispensing units often rely on gravity alone to separate cones. Under ideal conditions, with cones of perfect quality throughout every stack, this is not a problem. But with the deviations in quality described above, this solution is simply not good enough. An effective cone dispenser must comprise a reliable and precise mechanical solution that firmly and gently pulls the cones out of the stack without leaving any marks and guaranteeing a minimum of downtime and waste.
Another critical part of the ice cream filler is the chocolate spraying unit. Simpler spraying systems are usually based on air pressure and lack volumetric dosing. This means that spraying tends to be messy, and over-spraying – i.e. chocolate going to waste – is almost impossible to avoid. This quickly adds up to large numbers. When producing 18,000 units an hour, a typical over-spraying of one gram per unit means 18 kilograms of chocolate going to waste for every hour of production. Adjusting a simpler, pressure-based system to spray less chocolate typically leads to an uneven layer of chocolate inside the cone, with some parts even remaining completely uncoated. This results in a soggy cone and customers will choose a competitor’s product the next time.
In addition, there are a number of arguments for being cautious when choosing ice cream fillers with low investment costs. General robustness, flexibility for different products with quick changeovers, easy and reliable operation and low maintenance are a few factors that will have a big impact on your bottom line. Taking all this into consideration, the cheapest investment might turn out to be a less favourable deal when it comes to production cost and total cost of ownership.
Our advice: take a good look at the total cost before going for a low price.