Buying a biscuit production line

Our experience of over 40 years includes working with suppliers of biscuit, cookie and cracker production lines from Europe, USA and Asia. The following are some guide lines we have found valuable in selecting a supplier for a production line. An important part of our business now is assisting bakeries in selecting suitable suppliers for new projects and negotiating successful contracts.

1. Specification of the equipment

The initial task for the Buyer is to define the products to be made and the output (kg/h) to be produced. The control and safety systems can be specified as PLC with HMI or hard wired panels. Other important initial considerations are the factory space and services available, including fuel gas / oil, electricity, compressed air.

The specification should cover considerable detail based on the Buyer’s requirements. The following is an example of a specification for a small snack cracker and semi-sweet biscuit line.

2. Specification for a production line for 750-1000kg/h

Snack cracker

Dimensions:                            48.0 mm diameter

Thickness:                                4.9 mm

Weight:                                   3.0 g

Appearance:                            Evenly blistered

Texture:                                   Light and crispy

pH:                                           5.5

Moisture 1.5 – 2.0%

Production output

Oven length:                           50.0m

Oven band width:                    1200mm

Output:                                    750-1000 kg/h


1.1 One – Horizontal mixer, batch capacity 500 – 500kg

Baker Perkins horizontal high speed mixer
  • Stainless steel bowl with water jacket
  • Temperature probe for dough temperature
  • Direct discharge with 150 degree bowl tilt
  • 2 speed or variable speed drive (30/60rpm)
  • Ingredient feed ports for 2 dry and 2 liquid ingredients
  • Safety guards and lock for dough tub
  • Control for mixing times, speeds and dough temperature

1.2 Four – dough tubs with castors

1.3 One – Dough Feed Unit

Dough feed tub lift and tilt
  • Tub lift and tilt
  • Live bottom hopper with guillotine
  • Inclined web to feed dough pieces to the hopper of the 3 roll sheeter
  • Metal detector with reject system


Dough sheet width 1200mm

Biscuit cutting machine from Dingson Food Machinery, China

2.1  One – 3 roll sheeter, roll diameters 420 – 300mm

  • Variable speed drives for forcing roll and gauging rolls
  • Dough scrap incorporation at the back of the sheeter hopper
  • Delivery web width 1250mm, synthetic material
  • Automatic tension and tracking
  • Speeds and roll  gaps set by machine mounted HMI

2.2  Two – Gauge roll units

  • Rolls 300mm diameter
  • Adjustable roll scrapers
  • Delivery web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Speeds and roll  gaps set by machine mounted HMI

2.3  One – Heavy Duty Gauge roll unit

  • Rolls 400mm diameter
  • Gauging gap 0-8mm
  • Delivery web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Nosepiece transfer to intermediate web
  • Speeds and roll  gaps set by machine mounted HMI

2.4  One – Intermediate conveyor, approx. 2.0m long

  • Conveyor web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Speeds and roll  gaps set by machine mounted HMI

2.5  One – Rotary cutting machine

  • Suitable for separate printing and cutting rolls 200-300mm diameter
  • Cutting conveyor web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Speeds set by machine mounted HMI
  • Two rubber covered rolls below cutting conveyor to support the printing and cutting operations
  • Servo motor control of phasing between printing and cutting rolls
  • Printing and cutting roll pressures adjustable
  • Dough by-pass facility
  • One printing and one cutting roll with plastic inserts for snack cracker

2.6  One transfer conveyor

  • Conveyor web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Speeds and roll  gaps set by machine mounted HMI

2.7  One scrap lift and return system

  • Conveyor to pick up dough scrap with adjustable nosepiece at feed end
  • Conveyor web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Dough scrap cutter
  • Cross scrap conveyor
  • Side scrap conveyor 300mm wide to deliver the dough scrap to the 3 roll sheeter
  • Reciprocating delivery conveyor above the sheeter hopper to deliver the scrap dough evenly across the width of the hopper

2.8  Four – ambient air blowers with fixed speed

2.9  One – Salt sprinkler with recovery

  • Stainless steel hopper
  • Variable speed sprinkler roll for salt with brush
  • Wire mesh recovery conveyor
  • Hopper to collect excess salt and deliver to side of the machine

2.10  One – Swivel panner

  • Conveyor web with automatic tension and tracking
  • Web width 1250mm
  • Speeds and roll gaps set by machine mounted HMI
  • Unit supported on pivot. Panner will swivel to follow oven band tracking movement guided by rollers which engage the sides of the oven band
  • Facility to lift conveyor web clear of oven band

2.11  Control system for biscuit cutting machine

  • Cascade speed control by PLC
  • Operator adjustment by HMI. Roll gaps adjusted by servo motors with setting by HMI


  • Baking chamber 50m long. Band width 1200mm
  • 4 zones: 10.0, 12.0, 14.0, 14.0m
  • Band pre-heat burners
Baker Pacific Direct Gas Fired Oven for snack crackers

3.1 Oven feed end

  • 1200mm diameter drum with scraper
  • Band tracking detection and pneumatic tracking system
  • Pneumatic oven band tension system
  • Oven band tension monitor
  • 3.0m drum centre to baking chamber

3.2 Direct Gas Fired baking chamber, 50m long

  • 4 zones with separate heat and humidity control
  • Expansion joints between each zone
  • Explosion relief panels in oven top
  • Inspection window in each zone
  • Clean out doors in non-control side, approximately 3.0m apart

3.3 Heat rating

  • Fuel: LPG
  • Maximum heat rating:  2000kWh (33.3 kWh/m2 of oven band)

3.4  Gas train

  • Manual shut off valve
  • Two automatic shut off valves for safety system
  • Gas filter
  • Zero gas pressure governor
  • Gas pressure high/low detection
  • Gas pressure gauges at inlet and outlet of gas train
  • Gas valve tightness proving system (to check for leakage of gas)
  • Main gas pipes and distribution system

3.5   Combustion air supply

  • 8 – Centrifugal blowers with 2.2kW direct drives
  • 8 – Air pressure gauges
  • 8 –  Motorised butterfly valves for top and bottom air pressure
  • 8-  Pressure switches
  • Braided air hoses between air header pipes and burners

Note: The air pressure may alternatively be controlled by variable speed blowers or by motorised valves

3.6  Burner system

  • 106  – burners with 1200mm strips (18 with multi lane control) includes 6 pre-heat burners
  • Turndown ratio: 4/5:1
  • Strip design and material: stainless steel corrugated strips
  • 106 – Flame managers
  • 106 – gas / air mixers with gas / air ratio adjustment
  • 106 – solenoid valves
  • 106 – gas tube bends

3.7  Ignition system

  • 106 – electrode shields
  • 106 – tube igniters
  • 106 – mounting brackets
  • 106 – Rajah connectors
  • ignition cable

3.8  Automatic temperature control

  • Four thermocouples are installed in each oven zone to detect the baking temperatures. These provide signals to controllers at the zone control panels / PLC to provide temperature setting and monitoring with digital readouts
  • The combustion air pressure is modulated to maintain the set baking temperatures
  • The top and bottom burners in each zone are separately controlled

3.9  Extraction fans

  • Four (4) – Multi-vane Forward Curved Fans
  • Volume: 34m3/min
  • Pressure: 70mm WG at 20 degrees C
  • Four (4) – Pressure switches for extraction fans 

3.10  Turbulence / convection system for 3 zones

  • Turbulence fan (fixed speed) to distribute convective air to ducts above and below the oven band
  • Turbulence ducts adjacent to return ducts to use heat from the return airflow to the burner
  • Even distribution of turbulence from full width ducts running the length of the zones
  • Adjustment for top and bottom airflow

3.11  Over temperature safety system

  • 1 – thermocouple to be mounted in the extraction flue in each zone
  • 1 – Omron temperature controller to detect over temperature and actuate main gas shut off valve

3.12  Oven delivery end and drive unit

  • 1000mm drum unit
  • 4000mm extension from drum centre to baking chamber
  • Baking time adjustable 3 – 9 minutes by variable speed AC motor with inverter control
  • Adjustable stripper knife
  • Wire mesh band stripping conveyor with adjustable discharge height and retractable nosepiece for biscuit reject
  • Cross scrap conveyor for reject biscuits

3.13   Stand by DC drive or standby generator for baking band

  • In the event of a failure of the factory power supply. The drive will operate the oven band, stripping conveyor

3.14  Extraction hood

  • A stainless steel hood 2000mm long with an extraction fan mounted over the delivery end extension.

3.15   Oven band cleaner

  • Top wire brush to clean inside of the oven band with fixed speed drive.
  • Bottom wire brush unit to clean the outside of the oven band with fixed speed drive and mounted on a trolley for removal to the side of the oven.
  • Manual adjustment for brush pressure

3.16  Oven band

  • Type Z47 wire mesh band
  • Width 1200mm
  • Oven band to be supported on skid bars in the baking chamber and on rollers on the return circuit

3.17  One – set of site wiring materials


tna oil spray system with spinning discs

4.1 Oil spray machine, 1200mm wide

  • Stainless steel construction
  • Stainless wire mesh conveyor with auto tracking and tension
  • Top and bottom spray units with spinning discs
  • Mobile oil reservoir unit with heating
  • High and low level sensors
  • Filter system for surplus oil being returned to reservoir
  • Mist extraction system

4.2 Drain conveyor

  • 2.0m long, 1200m wide
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Stainless wire-mesh conveyor with auto tracking and tension
  • Drain system to removable tank at the base of the conveyor


Two tier cooling system
  • Arrangement to provide 150% of baking time, 75m total length
  • Inclined conveyor to deliver the crackers to a two tier cooling system
  • Stacker feed conveyor
  • Pneumatic web tensioning and tracking system
  • 1300mm wide synthetic webs
  • AC motor gearboxes with inverter speed control


  • Chute with adjustable magnetic guides
  • Adjustable star wheel stacking system
  • Cracker guides for up to 20 lanes


Packing table
  • 1400mm wide web
  • Guides for up to 20 lanes
  • Length 12.0m
  • Automatic tension and tracking
  • AC motor with inverter speed control

3. Selection of potential suppliers

The following are important considerations

  • Previous experience
  • Supplier’s references
  • Supplier’s location and sales/service network
  • Budget and supplier’s price level

Usually 2-4 suppliers will be selected and asked to quote. The quotations can then be compared and a selection of the two best proposals will be made for detail discussions, visits to reference lines and the supplier’s factory.

4. Comparison of Quotations

The following is a typical comparison made between 3 suppliers, from Asia and Europe. The comparison highlights the differences in specification and commercial terms offered and will form the basis for negotiations with the selected suppliers.

5. Snack and biscuit line quotations                                        

5. Snack and biscuit line quotations                                        
  Supplier A Supplier B Supplier C
MIXER Horizontal Vertical spindle Horizontal
Capacity 500kg hard dough 500kg hard dough 550kg
Drive 50kW 32kW  
Speeds 30 / 60 rpm 20 / 30 rpm Variable speed
Mixing blade “Z” blade 2 spindle  
Dough tub 1 included 1 included 1 included
Water jacket included N/A included
DOUGH FEED Horizontal arrangement Vertical tub tilt unit Horizontal arrangement
  Live bottom bin with guillotine   Live bottom bin with guillotine
  Dough transfer conveyor to sheeter   Dough transfer conveyor to sheeter
  1.2m wide   1.2m wide
  Metal detector included  N/A Metal detector included
Width 1200mm wide 1250mm wide 1200mm wide
Hopper Scrap incorporation included    
Roll diam. 310 / 270 diam rolls 310 / 270 diam rolls 310 / 270 diam rolls
Width 1200mm 1250mm 1200mm
1st Gauge roll unit 310mm rolls                                                Servo motors for gap setting 310mm rolls 310mm rolls
Servo motors for gap setting Servo motors for gap setting
2nd Gauge roll unit Not included 310mm rolls                              Servo motors for gap setting 310mm rolls                                     Servo motors for gap setting
Final Gauge roll unit 400mm rolls                                            Servo motors for gap setting 410mm rolls                          Servo motors for gap setting 400mm rolls                                     Servo motors for gap setting
Conveyors Food grade plastic                            Manual tensioning                           Auto tracking 1350mm wide                     Rough pattern PU             Pneumatic tension            Manual double roll tracking Food grade plastic                           Auto tension and tracking of final gauge roll belt
Relaxation conveyor Length / width  not specified                         Manual tensioning                            Manual tracking 3300mm long  x 1350mm wide                              Pneumatic tensioning          Auto tracking 2.0m long x 1200mm wide         Auto tracking and tensioning
Air blowers None specified One ambient / hot air Air blowers included
Rotary cutter 2 roll type, separate emboss and cut rolls, synchronised:  250mm diam.                           Pneumatic tracking                                       By-pass facility 2 roll type, separate emboss and cut rolls: 200-250mm diam.                                         Pneumatic tracking              Auto tensioning 2 roll type, separate emboss and cut rolls:                   Servo controlled pressure rolls                                          Auto tracking and tensioning
Scrap lift conveyor Scrap cutter                                          Manual tensioning                                    Auto tracking Pneumatic tensioning              Manual tracking included
Side scrap return conveyor included 300mm wide included 240mm wide included
Reciprocating conveyor feed to laminator included included 240mm wide included
Salt sprinkler Roll type mounted over panner Belt type Rotating blade with perforated plate for depositing salt
Salt recovery conveyor and panner Salt recovery by a plastic belt with nose bar Wire mesh recovery conveyor Salt sprinkler over panner with transverse conveyor for excess salt
Panner Fixed panner combined with salt recovery                                                     Food grade plastic belt      Swivel panner                       1350mm wide PU belt Swivel panner                                 1200mm plastic belt                      Manual nose lift
CONTROL SYSTEM FOR FORMING MACHINES                   Electrical panel                                           Cascade system                                         UPS option Cascade system                  Siemens S7 PLC PLC control with HMI panels
Length / width 1.2m x 48m long Hybrid oven Direct Gas Fired / Convection oven                      4 zones                               1.25 x 42m DGF oven                 4 zones  1.2m x 48m Hybrid DGF/Indirect Convection oven                                                            4 zones
Oven band Steinhaus F4012k-st  on rollers                             Pneumatic tensioning                            Auto tracking system                                  Pre-heat: 6 burners                                                    Wire-mesh band     Pneumatic tracking     Pneumatic tension                 Pre-heat: 8 burners        Wire mesh on rollers                      Auto tracking                                Pneumatic tensioning                    Pre-heat: 6 burners
Gas train  Not specified Not specified Not specified
DGF oven DGF 3 zones, 36m long                                     Baking chamber:  Aluminum steel                   70 burners (12 – 3 zone burners)              Thermocouples: 2 per zone                  1750 kWh installed 60 burners                                      1080 kWh installed           Modular constr. 3m long modules      Thermocouples 4 per zone DGF 3 zones, 36m long                         76burners (including 5 – 3 zone burners)
Convection oven One zone, 12m long                                     1- modulating burner    250kWh                                                           1- thermocouple + 1 – safety thermocouple          N/A Indirect system with heat exchanger                                            One zone 12.1m long                     1- Riello modulating burner
Combustion air supply  Not specified Not specified Not specified
Inspection windows 1 per zone 1 per zone Not specified
Clean out doors 1 per zone 1 per zone  Not specified
Insulation 130 kg/m3 80kg/m3 Mineral wool
Extraction 1 – extraction fan per zone 1 VS extraction fan per zone 1 – extraction fan per zone
Band cleaner Triple brush group Not specified Double brush for outside of band
Stripping conveyor Included                                                      Material not specified Not specified Steel mesh belt 1.3m wide         Cross conveyor for emergency discharge
Oil application 2 – 15% Separate pumps for top and bottom spray  
Spinning discs Fixed speed spinning discs 14 spinning discs Spinning disc system
Filter mist unit Vapour recovery hood Filter mist unit included Hood with suction unit and filter
Drain conveyor 3.0m                                                                    Plastic belt       2.0m                                     Stainless steel mesh 3.0m                                                       Plastic belt
COOLING CONVEYOR 55m long  1.2m wide                                 DC drives                                                    Auto tracking                                              Manual tensioning 60m long 1350mm wide         SEW drives                                     3 sets of blowers 58m 1300mm wide                                 4 conveyors and 2 – 180 degree bends                                                    Auto tracking and pneumatic tensioning
BISCUIT STACKER Adjustable star wheel stacker  1.2m wide                                                      Magnetic guides Adjustable star wheel stacker 1.25m wide Adjustable star wheel                    Stacker 1.4m wide                           Guides for 24 lanes
PACKING TABLE 1.2m wide  12m long                                  Auto tracking                                       Manual tensioning                              1450mm wide  12m long    Pneumatic tensioning             Pneumatic tensioning   1.4m wide  12m long                    Guides for 24 biscuit lanes
COMPONENT SUPPLIERS                PLC                                                                INVERTERS                                                   ELECTRICS                                BEARINGS                                      DRIVES                                    PNEUMATICS                          PLC Omron / Siemens / Allen Bradley  Danfoss / Omron inverters                   SEW drives                                                   Legrand / Siemens / Omron electrics    Pneumatics Omnitec / Festo            Bearings  FAG / SKF Siemens S7 PLC                       Danfoss inverters                     SEW drives                               Telemechaniqe / Schneider electrics                        Pneumatics AIRTAC              Bearings   NSK       Suppliers except burners and metal detector not specificed
PRICE UDS 1,420,000  FOT USD 1,230,000                  Packed and crated USD 2,250,000                  incl. packing, supervision of  installation and commissioning
TERMS 30% deposit, 70% prior to shipment 30% deposit, 65% prior to shipment, 5% on completion To be agreed
DELIVERY 6 – 7 months 6 months To be agreed

It is recommended that 2 – 3 suppliers are shortlisted for negotiations. Visits should be made to see the factories of the potential suppliers and to see relevant production lines in operation. At this stage the specifications of the equipment can be finalised with each supplier.

After the decision by the Buyer on the potential suppliers, the price and commercial terms of the contract may be negotiated, usually with two potential suppliers. A final decision on the supplier can now be made by the Buyer.

6. Commercial terms

The following are typical headings for a contract to buy a production line.


1. Scope of the order

2. Equipment specifications

3. Performance criteria

4. Programme Schedule

5. Price and payment terms

6. Delivery

7. Additional shipments

8. Exclusions

9. Guarantees

10. Liquidated damages

11. Liability

12. Confidentiality

13. Amendments in writing

14. Contract signatures: