Dough mixer design has changed in the last decade – here's how to keep them in good working order.
These units used to have big gearboxes that would act like a transmission changing gears in a car. Operators would have to turn off some mixers to change gears from slow to medium or medium to high during the mixing process. In addition, these mixers would need extensive periodic maintenance to keep them mixing properly. Operators would have to change the gearbox lubricant every few years and adjust due to wear to ensure all speeds were obtainable. Some mixers had to be running to change speeds but would always have to be started in a slow speed to make sure that there was enough power to start the mixing process. Seals would have to be replaced to keep lube from the gear box from contaminating the product. There would be big motor start/stop switches with watertight seals around them, and the operator would hose the entire mixer down at the end of the day to clean it.
Due to today’s variable frequency drive (VFD) controllers, bigger drive motors, and electric programmable timers to change settings to optimize the product, newer mixers tend to require lighter maintenance.
A damp cloth with a detergent mix is all that is necessary to clean the main part of the machine. Operators can now remove parts such as bowl safety cages and shields to run them through the dishwasher. If this is done after every use or at the end of every day, the mixer will provide years of service with minimal downtime for repair issues, according to most manufacturers.
During mixing, flour can migrate up in the motor or control area. Although this won’t necessarily harm the mixer, it can inadvertently insulate electrical components, which prevents them from cooling and could lead to overheating. To prevent problems, operators can conduct visual checks when the unit is not in use.
Depending on use, the dough mixer’s transmission system may require regular oil changes every six months or annually by service agents. Technicians also will lubricate bowl lift components with food-grade machine oil. Never use cooking spray as a lubricant because it eventually coagulates and becomes sticky.
An annual or biannual check by a service tech can help prevent breakdowns during critical production runs. Like all electric equipment, never submerge dough mixers in water during cleaning.
Overloading the unit is the most common mistake operators make with dough mixers. This causes excessive wear on planetary gears, early oil breakdown, an inability to lubricate gears, and bent or broken shafts.
If the transmission and/or motor fails, an operator can opt to have the unit repaired, but this will be pricey and involves draining the oil to gain access to the transmission.