Key points in noodle-making machine selection – don’t start making your own noodles yet! It’s too late to know when you’ve started: chapter 4

This report analyses the Japanese market.

Chapter 3: Noodle-making machine industry suppliers and history continued.

Each noodle-making machine reflects the company’s values, mission, policies, climate and the intentions of its designers.
In the field of design, that intention is called the design philosophy. Depending on what kind of design philosophy is used to design the noodle-making machine, the resulting noodle-making machine will be completely different.
However, most customers think that if a machine has the name ‘noodle-making machine’, all noodle-making machines produce the same kind of noodles, have the same performance and are similarly easy to use.
However, from the point of view of a machine expert such as myself, the exterior shape of a noodle-making machine may be similar, but the contents are completely different, due to differences in design philosophy.

1. the key noodle-making machine identification is the design philosophy of the noodle-making machine manufacturer

Each manufacturer has a different design philosophy and different priorities for what to prioritise, and our priorities can be listed as follows.

1.Good taste of noodles
 →Top priority
 →top priority
3.Ease of use
4.Design, compactness
5.Ease of maintenance
6.Durability (whether it lasts long without breaking down?)
8.UL, CE compliant
10.Ease of manufacture
11.Ease of design

The above order is the order of priority that our development department places importance on, and we always approach the design of noodle-making machines with this design philosophy in mind.

For example, if the designer’s ability is low, the priority is on how easy it is for him to design the machine, with good taste, ease of use, ease of maintenance, ease of production and safety as an afterthought, resulting in a very difficult-to-use, low-performance noodle-making machine.
Conversely, a noodle-making machine designed by a highly competent designer who has a good understanding of the process of producing delicious noodles and the ease of use will produce noodles that are delicious, easy to use and last a long time.
Therefore, in order to produce such a noodle-making machine, it is essential to have a certain level of experience and to make continuous efforts to raise the technical level of the machine.

The lower the level of designers, the easier it is for them to design and the less user-friendly the machine is, while the higher the level of designers, the more they can develop a machine that puts the customer first and takes care of itself later.
Therefore, when considering a noodle-making machine, actually use the machine,

・How tasty the noodles are
・Is it easy to use?
・Is safety a priority?
・Is the design excellent?
・Is it easy to maintain?
・Is it robust?
・Is it hygienic?

It is important to check these factors in detail.
It is easy to find out by comparing different machines and actually using them before buying.

2. whether the noodle-making machine is capable of producing the noodle quality they want.

In the case of ramen noodles, there is a very wide range of noodle-making methods, from low to high water-added noodles. What kind of noodles does your restaurant currently make and what kind of noodles might it make in the future? With this in mind, it is important to select a noodle-making machine that can produce the noodle quality you want without compromise.

Some ramen noodles are made using the reverse cutting method, in which the width and thickness are reversed during rolling and cutting, as in the case of Iekei ramen. However, when the reverse cutting method is used, the very thick noodle dough is forcibly cut in a thin cutting blade, which exerts a great deal of force on the blade. The machine must take this into account to be able to cut the noodles in the reverse direction.

This may be a special case, but when starting out with home-made noodles, have sample noodles made until you are satisfied without compromise. If you introduce a noodle-making machine from a noodle-making machine manufacturer who can give you the recipe when you introduce the machine, it is impossible that you will not be able to produce the kind of noodles you were expecting. At the same time, such a noodle-making machine manufacturer will also be able to give you new noodle-making recipes.

3. does the model have the right capacity for your shop?

Noodle-making machines come in a wide range of sizes and types. The size to be selected will naturally depend on the number of servings per day in the shop, and choosing the optimum size noodle-making machine will lead to labour savings for the shop.

If it is too large, space and energy will be wasted, and if it is too small, production will not be possible in time.

Noodle-making machines vary widely in model and size according to the capacity required. For example, some 100-seat noodle shops specify machines with a capacity of 100 servings per hour. If the restaurant is not thriving, this capacity will be sufficient, but if it becomes extremely busy, it will have to keep making noodles all day long. The initial investment cost of the machine is lower, but the daily labour costs are higher, so the cost per meal ends up being more expensive.

Selecting a machine with a slightly larger size than the minimum required capacity will often result in lower total costs later on. Incidentally, unless specialist manpower can be allocated to the noodle-making process, otherwise, the machine capacity should normally be set to produce the required amount of noodles per day in about 2-3 hours.

Generally, noodle-making machine manufacturers and dealers want to sell their machines anyway, so even if there is some difficulty, they will casually say, “That can be done easily”. Therefore, it is wise to select a model after clearly defining which type of noodle can be made and in what quantity. Be sure to select the right type for your shop.

4. whether the machine can be used reliably after installation?

It is obvious, but what is important for the user of a noodle-making machine is not what happens before the machine is purchased, but what happens after the machine is purchased. What happens after purchase is usually only known after the machine has been used. To avoid regrets, here are some tips for selecting a noodle-making machine that take into account what happens after purchase.

The structure of any machine, including a noodle-making machine, is almost always the same. If we compare it to a human being, it can be divided into a ‘frame’ (skeleton), a ‘motor’ (heart), a ‘control part’ (brain) (some machines are equipped with computers these days) and a ‘drive part’ (limbs).

Professionals can easily identify the thinking and technical level of these machine makers by looking at the way the machine is built.

1.Manufacturers who make the frames using old designs tend to use cast materials, timber or angle materials for the frame, while newer machines are more likely to use a folded or welded structure of steel plates.

2.The drive system can be either a single motor that drives the mixer, rolls and cutters, or separate motors for the mixer, rolls and cutters. Of course, if only one motor is used, the entire machine will be unusable if the motor breaks down. However, if the motors are separate, the roll and cutter can still be used even if the mixer motor fails.

3.The control section is gradually computerised in newer designs, while older designs simply have a switch to supply power to the motor. However, a thermal relay to prevent motor burnout is absolutely necessary.

4.The drive part is the part in contact with the noodle dough and this part must be made of stainless steel or plastic for hygiene reasons. In some cases, cast metal is used for the rolls, but this is not desirable in terms of rust.

As mentioned above, the resulting machines are completely different depending on the concept and approach of each noodle-making machine manufacturer. Some manufacturers are obsessed with cost and sacrifice safety and usability, others prioritise cheap production in order to make sales easier, while others do not change the old design at all, and continue to produce machines with the same old structure and mechanisms.

Pricing also varies. Some manufacturers set a high price from the outset, sell at a price close to the list price to customers who do not ask for a discount, and offer a large discount to customers who ask for it. Others, like us, set an honest price close to the cost price and sell at the same price to everyone honestly, without any discount range.

I hate negotiating prices with customers, so I set uniform prices with no discounts at all for anyone.

The most important things to keep in mind when using a roll-type noodle-making machine are

Whether it produces tasty noodles
2.Ease of use
3.The manufacturer’s system
4.The most important factors to consider are the following.

The checkpoint “1. whether delicious noodles can be made” has been mentioned in the previous two paragraphs, so next I would like to explain the criteria for selecting a noodle-making machine in terms of safety, ease of use and manufacturer’s system.

To select a noodle-making machine that you will not regret after purchase, the following points should be considered.

・Is it easy to operate? Is it easy to use even for amateurs?
・Is it safe? (In particular, in the case of roll-type noodle-making machines, is the machine equipped with a roll safety device?)
・Does the machine itself look good and is it durable? (Does it have a stainless steel exterior?)
・Is it made of hygienic materials? (Is it made of easy-to-clean stainless steel or plastic material?)
・Can the machine be carried in and out even with a frontage of half a room? (Can the unit be carried in in sections?)
・Can it be used with a household power supply?
・Does the price vary greatly depending on negotiations? (Does the price vary according to the customer?)
・Is it possible to completely overhaul old machines?
・Is the manufacturer able to provide full after-sales service after purchase?
 (Can I expect support regarding the machine, noodle quality and management aspects?)
・Is the maintenance system really reliable? (Is it available on Sundays, public holidays and 365 days a year?)
・Is there a protection circuit for the motor and a thermal relay to prevent burnout?
 (If the motors are not installed separately for each function, a failure in any one part will stop everything from running.)

In particular, it is recommended to carefully assess whether the company is one that can be consulted on noodle quality and management issues that arise after the machine has been purchased, as there is a big difference between manufacturers.

Continued in Chapter 5: Safety devices and hazards.

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