In commercial kitchens, there are two real types of mixers: planetary mixers and spiral mixers. But what are the real differences, and which types are best for the objectives you're looking to achieve in your foodservice operation?
For starters, let's talk about how they operate.
Planetary mixers get their name because of how they rotate. The mixing implement, which can include a dough hook, paddle, or beater, actually rotates around the bowl -- kind of like a planet in orbit. There's a single motor, and the bowl does not rotate.
Spiral mixers are a little different. They have two motors, one that turns the bowl and one that turns the dough hook. And because of their differing designs, spiral mixers have different capabilities when compared to planetary mixers, as well.
The real difference between spiral mixers and planetary mixers, though, is why an operator would use one over the other.
Why would someone use a planetary mixer?
Planetary mixers are exceptionally versatile and can mix things from frosting to cookie dough to pizza dough. With proper attachments and a #12 hub, they can also cut, dice, chop, slice, and grind. They are wonderful all-purpose players in a commercial kitchen.
In terms of size, a planetary mixer can be as small as 10 quarts with increments going all the way up to 140 quarts. Because of the versatility and varying size options, they are by far the most commonly seen type of commercial mixer in the kitchen, but they are not always the best choice.
Why would someone use a spiral mixer?
To boil it down, spiral mixers are the best choice for serious bread, bagel, pasta, and pizza dough makers. Due to the design of spiral mixers, even larger units can efficiently mix smaller capacities.
Proper oxygenation, rotational speed, synchronization of the bowl and hook, as well as time are all crucial for making the perfect dough. A spiral mixer can significantly reduce your operating time as a result. They are simple to use, with manual or automatic digital controls, and typically have two speeds for higher efficiency.
In terms of maintenance, there's is practically none with spiral mixers due to extreme durability. A spiral mixer allows operators to mix higher absorption ration (AR) doughs due to their powerful motors and design of rotating the bowl and the hook together.
In terms of capacities, spiral mixers can range from 30 quarts all the way up to around 350 quarts. If you are primarily producing doughs and don't have the need for chopping, slicing, and other functions, a spiral mixer should be at the top of your list.
Not sure which unit would be best for your operation?
Doyon is a great source for both spiral mixers and planetary mixers. As a leader in the bakery and pastry space, you can find all your specialty baking equipment needs with Doyon. Get a personal equipment assessment from High Sabatino, and let us help you navigate the world of Doyon.