Vibratory Screeners Keep Dessert Toppings in ShapeMONTVILLE, NJ—Everyone with a sweet tooth loves sprinkles, the brightly colored confectionary toppings that enhance the taste and eye appeal of desserts.
Producing them is an exacting task due in part to maintaining a diameter of 2 mm (0.08 in), and lengths up to 10 mm (0.39 in). American Sprinkle Co. of Pine Brook, NJ, a leader in the production of the toppings, uses two multi-deck Vibroscreen® circular vibratory screeners from Kason Corporation of Millburn, NJ, to ensure uniform dimensions.
Uniformity Matters in Sprinkles
Sprinkle size and shape are important to the industrial and retail bakers and franchises that are American Sprinkle's U.S. customers (the company does not sell direct to consumers). Uniformly shaped sprinkles provide even toppings, stay where they are applied and look better than misshapen sprinkles. They also reinforce the high-end appeal of the user's products; American Sprinkle touts the "bright colors, brilliant shine and gourmet taste" of its toppings as key selling points.
All of these features derive from the quality of the recipe and production process. Doug Brockmann, who owns and operates the company along with brothers Bill, Bob and Ken, acquired the proprietary recipe and sprinkle-making process in Europe. One important part of the process, which he doesn't discuss for competitive reasons, is the ingredients. "The quality of our ingredients is very high, unlike that of our competitors'," Brockmann remarks, "and it's pretty evident."
Screeners Separate Off-Spec Toppings
American Sprinkle uses two 40 in. (1016 mm) diameter screeners, which are positioned at the sifting station near the end of each production line. The sprinkles emerge from an area called the panning room where they are shaped and coated. Each stainless steel, food-grade screener has two vibratory decks: a top deck with a 6 mesh (3350 micron) screen and a bottom deck with a smaller-aperture 14 mesh (1310 micron) screen to yield sprinkles within a defined size range. A chute automatically feeds the sprinkles into the center of the top screen on each unit. The vibratory action of the screener moves the sprinkles from the center toward the edge of each deck. Oversized sprinkles move in controlled pathways to a discharge spout at the periphery of the top screen. "The bigger ones never make it past the top screen," Brockmann says. On-spec sprinkles drop to the lower vibrating screen where they are transported to a discharge spout for packaging. Undersized sprinkles pass through apertures in the lower screen to a separate chute for removal.
The Vibroscreen® units have an imbalanced-weight gyratory motor that imparts multi-plane inertial vibration to each deck. The gyratory motor can be adjusted by repositioning the bottom eccentric weight relative to the top eccentric weight. This creates flow patterns ranging from 0 degrees in-phase to 90 degrees out-of-phase, depending on the desired flow path and dwell time for the material.
"The quality of American Sprinkle's process is so high that only 3 to 4% of product is rejected," Brockmann says.
Reliability Is Key
The company installed its first circular vibratory screener in 2006, and added the second on moving into its new 18,000 sq ft (1,672 sq m) plant. The second line allows lower sifting rates necessary to yield greater size discrimination, Brockmann says.
Throughput rates vary according to production needs. Each screener is capable of sifting 1,200 lb (544 kg) of sprinkles per hour, he says.
The company previously used a different brand of mechanical sifter. Brockmann declined to provide details about the original unit, but says the performance and reliability of the initial Kason screener convinced him to purchase the second one without considering competitive models. He worked with Cino Equipment, a manufacturer's representative in Berkeley Heights, NJ, to acquire and install the screeners. "We've never had a problem running it—it's never gone down," Brockmann says.
American Sprinkle's new plant is approximately three times larger than its original facility. Capacity in the new plant is 40,000 lb (18,144 kg) of sprinkles per day. The facility runs five sprinkle lines, and also produces colored sugar, nonpareils and sugar shapes.
Brockmann says the company will add two circular vibratory screeners this year, primarily to increase throughput. "They won't be dedicated to a line, but will be used to sift the sprinkles as needed to maintain production rates."
American Sprinkle Co.
P.O. Box 440
Montville, NJ 07045
Cino Equipment Co.
230 Sherman Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922