Sometimes when we think about engineering, the images that come to mind are more likely to be structures like bridges, buildings, construction equipment, motor vehicles, aircraft and specialised processing equipment. A person is not likely to think of an expresso coffee maker or a knife sharpener and link it to engineering. But there are many facets of engineering that can be involved in large or minuscule projects. For example, imagine the technology involved in nano-engineering!
Have you ever wondered about how a food mixer works? What about those dough mixers you can buy these days? You empty a packet of ingredients into the machine, add water, turn it on and leave it for 4 – 6 hours. Voila! You get a loaf of bread. The secret of a good product, be it paint or food prepared from a recipe, is how well you blend the ingredients.
Do You Mix Well?
Then there is the psychological aspect of mixing. Are you a good mixer? Do you blend into a crowd, or do you stand out like a sore thumb? Are you the wallflower at parties? Okay, this has nothing to do with engineering, but you get the idea. Even the word ‘mix’ has different applications depending on the context in which it is used. Some individuals are perfect people mixers! Especially salespersons J.
The Big Mix
The mixers you use at home are okay for baking a cake or whipping up some cream, but have you ever thought about the size of the mixer you might need if you’re the owner of Ann’s Pasties or Samworth Pies? You’re not making a couple of pies or pasties for lunch, you’re feeding thousands. And you’re doing it every day. The disper mixer that you would need to run that sort of business means some pretty specialized engineering is required to design equipment that can handle the load. Food grade stainless steel that can be easily cleaned and maintained. Think about that the next time you’re at the local pub and having a pie and a beer for lunch!
When your mum baked a cake, she would put the cake mix into the bowl, add the water or milk, and lower the Sunbeam or the Philipps into the ingredients and flick the switch. It took only a couple of minutes to have the cake mix ready to pour into the tray and pop into the oven. The part we loved the best was licking the beaters. It wasn’t the most efficient way to clean them, but it was the most delicious. Can you imagine a factory employing hundreds of staff to lick the paddles on an industrial mixer? In actual fact, they have a batch mixer which must do a lot to help productivity. If you want to make a batch for something else the machine is ready to go. Neat!
When a company needs to do some serious mixing, and we’re not talking muffins and pies here, the batches might be for a more industrial purpose, maybe feed for the cattle, explosives or perhaps a fertilizer mix. It’s time to bring out the big guns! Intensive looking machines with engineered blades and processes that maximise the blending process to give the best consistency. Machines were invented and designed to help man so we can spend more time doing things we like, like eating a pie with sauce and washing it down with a cold ale.