Heavy-duty kitchen equipment

Mixers 101 – common misconceptions that impact performance

Content adapted from Hobart & FES magazine

Whether you need a mixer for continuous use or the occasional batch, it’s important to have the right equipment for the job. A mixer that isn’t sized right can affect performance and increase costs. Learning these common misconceptions about mixers will help you make the best selection for the tasks performed and provide a long life in your correctional kitchen.

Misconception 1: Larger Motor Equals More Power

When it comes to mixers, remember that advertised horsepower won’t give you a complete picture of expected performance. A larger motor doesn’t mean the mixer will provide you with more power. Instead, check the mixer’s efficiency and torque, which affect the ability to drive the agitator into the bowl. This ensures that product is mixed thoroughly. The type of drive system the mixer has is a key factor here. For example the Hobart® Legacy® mixers with Variable Frequency Drive use a variable-speed motor and a single gear train to regulate the frequency and voltage of the electric current to the motor. This drive regulates the mixer speed so that it will increase or decrease to put the right amount of torque into the bowl to make sure ingredients are consistently mixed every time. If a mixer needs a larger motor to drive the same amount of torque as a smaller motor would drive, too much energy is being used to accomplish the task. When this is happening, components can become hotter faster and it can lead to premature motor failure, costly repairs and even replacement.

Misconception 2: More Is Always Better

It is best to determine the size and type of mixer you require by reviewing how you will be using the mixer. First, be sure to select the correct bowl size so that you won’t tax the motor. Sometimes a larger bowl will be needed, but not always; you use the absorption ratio to determine this. To calculate the absorption ratio, water weight is divided by flour weight. This is important because the recommended maximum capacity of the mixer depends on the moisture content of the dough. For example, on the Hobart mixer capacity chart, the capacities are based on an absorption rate calculation formula of 12% flour moisture at 70-degree Fahrenheit water temperature. Also, your kitchen may not require a maximum heavy-duty mixer. If the mixer is used periodically for heavy dough or limited batch use, a standard heavy-duty mixer would be a better choice. A good rule of thumb is if you are doing less than four hours of mixing daily. Anything more than that is better served with a maximum heavy-duty mixer.

Misconception 3: Routine Maintenance Isn’t Critical

Routine maintenance is important for any piece of kitchen equipment to reduce problems and extend the productive life of the equipment. Mixers have lubrication points like the actuators which are involved in lifting and lowering the bowl that need regular attention. You can save yourself future trouble by following the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how much and how often you grease these points. Also, you need to be sure you do not wipe off all the grease when you are cleaning because this may prevent the bowl from moving up and down correctly.

It is important to pay attention to the bowl clearance to see that it stays consistent. You can damage the bowl if the agitator is hitting the bottom and if the agitator isn’t positioned properly in the bowl, your ingredients will not get mixed thoroughly. You can refer to the operator’s manual for adjustment instructions.

It’s also recommended that you have your mixer inspected by a service provider annually as a proactive means of equipment maintenance. Taking care of heavy-duty kitchen equipment with regular maintenance will reduce your expenses in the long-term and extend the life or your equipment in your correctional foodservice operation.