When it comes to slicers, whether for a bakery or deli, there are a number of qualities to consider before purchasing, and a plethora of choices depending on your needs. This month, instore spoke with two experts in the field who told us not only what to look for, but what new technology and equipment their companies provide that meet the high standards set by today’s producers.
“As a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of bread slicers, we have to meet many different requirements,” says Paul Molyneux, national sales manager at JAC Machines, Inc. “By far the most important is safety. I would say that whichever environment you’re working in, safety is king.”
Every one of JAC’s bread slicers comes with a safety cover that will only allow the machine to run when it’s properly fitted. The cover also eliminates the need for a start button, as the machine will automatically start once the cover is in place, and automatically shut off when lifted. There are also safety switches on the crumb draw and trays, he says, that will immediately stop the slicing once they are opened.
“Another attribute we consider is ergonomics,” Molyneux says. “We spend a lot of time engineering our slicers to look modern and be very easy to operate, such as crumb draws that open to a convenient height and easy access for daily cleaning and blade replacement.”
Noise level is a problem that fortunately has decreased with new technology over the years, but if you’re operating in an open-air style retail or supermarket bakery, it’s still something you shouldn’t assume won’t be disturbing. JAC’s slicers all run under 75dB, Molyneux says, and should something go wrong, they also have a five-year warranty on parts.
“We have a broad range of slicers,” he says, “ranging from manual and automatic tabletop models to floor standing, dual-slice and variable thickness models. But our top-seller is the customer self-service slicer.”
The automatic models JAC offers all employ their patented Intelligent Slicing System, which measures the weight and amount of resistance any given type of bread presents, and then adjusts the pressure of its pusher toward the blades accordingly. This works for everything from soft bread to denser artisan loaves, Molyneux says.
Meat and Cheese Slicers
Meat and cheese slicing presents a number of different questions to consider before a purchase. Jenni Butler, director of product management and marketing at Globe Food Equipment Co., says there are three basic questions to ask yourself before making a decision about this kind of slicer: how many hours a day it will be used, if you will be slicing product that is frozen, and if you’re also working with cheeses, how much and how often you will be doing so.
“Globe offers a breadth of slicers and can accommodate any type of retail operation,” Butler says. “Our medium-duty line works well in a typical c-store where space and slice volume is limited. Our premium line is designed for precision and consistent slicing, and all of our slicers are optimized for easy operation and cleanability.”
For smaller operations looking for a medium-duty slicer, Butler suggests the Globe GC512, which is based on gear-driven technology that can cut through tougher products. “The knife cover interlocks, with a permanently attached knife ring guard and stainless steel construction that improves the cleaning process,” she says.
The technology behind deli slicers varies according to size and brand, and Butler says there’s a lot more to consider than just blade speed or motor size when selecting one.
“You always have to understand your operational needs,” she says. “For example, we offer a slicer technology designed specifically for frozen food. The serrated knife is great for specific markets that need a very thin slice from frozen meat, required for items like Mongolian BBQ, Carne Asada, or Shabu Shabu.”
But the most important attribute to consider is always yield, Butler says. “Operators should focus on which slicer provides the best yield and is able to maintain that yield over time, thereby reducing food waste and increasing profit margins.”