KANSAS CITY, MO. - Delta, British Columbia, Canada-based Unifiller Systems Inc. works with some of the giants of the grocery industry on machines specializing in portion control, said Sonia Bal, the company’s marketing director. Instore bakeries and delis are among the top destinations.  

Commissaries and other off-site facilities that supply prepared and other foods to supermarkets are also good customers for Unifiller portion control products.

“Our customers have found that our equipment helps with accurate portioning while increasing production yield (by not having to over-scale product), reducing labor in the downstream processes and reducing strain,” Bal said. “Many commissaries use our pumps and depositors for deli food portioning of sauces or ready meals, or sandwich production (accurate portions of filling between bread or for condiment spraying).”

With costs of flour, oil, salt and other ingredients increasing, accurately controlling portions is more important than ever, Bal said.

“Remaining competitive is vital – that’s why efficiency gains at the plant level by using Unifiller portioning equipment either increase production yield, reduce production time or streamline labor to offer a competitive advantage.”

Accurately portioned pizza dough or sauce, for instance, is very important, since product waste can impact profitability, create labor inefficiencies, impact the environment and consumer attitudes.

Accurate portioning is also a necessity for proper and accurate ingredient and serving size labelling, Bal said. Currently, Unifiller is looking at systems that can provide its customers a real-time data loop about their system and production cycles.

Commissary and grocery applications

“Our pumps, depositors and decorators are used for various deli, soup and bakery items,” Bal said. “For example, a large grocery chain uses our depositors in their many locations for all their cake batter and pie filling. They were mostly interested in entry level, easy to use equipment that would help with accurate portioning.”

Another chain uses Unifiller’s cake decorators for semi-automated top and side icing. Bal said a manual worker could spend anywhere from two to five minutes icing a cake because of the need to “smooth” it. A Unifiller decorator, by contrast, can spread the icing on the cake in one and a half or two seconds — and provide more accurate portion control in the process.

“Our top standardized equipment includes single piston and multi-piston depositors designed and built to the highest performance standards,” Bal said. “Transitions from the hopper to the volumetric product cylinder are optimized for the best possible flow of the products.”

Unifiller's patented valve technology, she added, provides for excellent sealing and smooth product passages for products without and with particulates. 

In addition, Unifiller single and multi piston depositors are available as pneumatic and servo models. Servo models are electronically controlled and are simpler, faster and easier to set up with the capability to save and recall recipes. Unifiller direct driven servo models, unique in the industry, are significantly more consistent in accurately spreading batters evenly and level, ensuring that the correct portion is delivered every time.

New — and fast

New at Unifiller is the heavy-duty Pro Series, which includes the Pro1000i FS and Pro 2000i FS depositors. Capable of a large deposit range up to 93 oz and able to deposit up to 110 deposits per minute, the series is perfect for clean depositing of sauces, ready meals, sandwich fillings, deli salads, meat fillings and other flowable products, Bal said. 

Machines in the series also boast a patented SV product valve, large openings and passages for safe depositing of larger chunks up to 1.5 in.

Constructed with the highest food safety and sanitation standards in mind, the Pro Series includes angled surface covers to eliminate pooling of water and food particles, and Bal said the stainless steel, tool-free design makes maintenance, change-over, and disassembly quick and easy.

“Full wash-down capabilities and a design philosophy that focuses on the fewest parts to maintain and clean, allow for quick sanitization for maximum uptime,” she added.

Unifiller’s depositors are volumetric piston fillers, and the latest range is servo-driven and developed for the high sanitations standards of food production.

Bal said that makes them very accurate and able to accommodate a wide variety of fillings. Unifiller has also developed a patented valving system that is very gentle and works exceptionally well for products with inclusions — what goes into the hopper, she said, is what comes out of the nozzle.

Portion control — and versatility

Server Products' new foodservice dispenser stands out for its versatility.

The ProPortion dispenser, which is available in both single- and triple-tip formats, come with color-coded valves and portion tabs.

The valves are available in small, medium and large options for dispensing different viscosities. And the six color-coded portion tabs come in six different sizes.

“A great thing is the ability to use ProPortion with so many different products without there being any issues regarding thickness,” said Aaron Sloma, owner and operator or Viand Hospitality, which tested the dispenser in both its Parker John’s BBQ & Pizza and Log Cabin Restaurants locations. “That’s very appealing to us.”

Portion controlled dispensing can result in use of considerably less product with fewer pauses to refill dispensers. “This product was designed with operators in mind; we wanted to give them precision and accuracy without complicated training or additional ongoing labor,” said Brian Kopeny, product solutions specialist at Server Products.

Both the product and labor efficiencies can save an operation up to $500 per dispenser.

And to increase food safety, the ProPortion has an elevated bottom that prevents the dispensing tip from coming into contact with preparation surfaces in the kitchen.