planetary VS VCM

I have always used planetary mixer with spiral hook but I have an opportunity to by a VCM Hobart and was wondering what the pros and cons are to VCM I know I can dice my cheese in it but can I get a good dough with texture out of it


Opening again in about 90days

Yes, you can make excellent dough with it. And much faster too.

The trade off between planetary mixing and vertical cutting is time and heat.

Slow and gentle depending if you use a “J” style hook or spiral hook. One rolls the dough into itself and the other spin/cycles the dough(usually 8-12 minutes). If you have a PTO attachment you can shread cheese and there are dicing attachments also(hard to find and maintain).

Vertical Cutter(1750-3500RPM):
Fast and Violent. The dough is mixed with a propeler looking blade. The temperature of the dough can rise 20-40F from original insertion to time of completion(usually 90 seconds), causing advanced proofing. Some advise it causes a “tougher” dough. Cheese can only be diced. The machine was originally designed to make fish paste in Germany. Mike Ilitch(founder of Little Caesars) was supposely the nail that helped Stephan bring the VCM into the Pizza market when the 30 quart planetary was not filling LC’s needs. This was the time was Randell was forced to make an electric pizza oven; Pizza Pride(what a monster) for LC also!

Costs for maintainance on planetary’s are usually low with reasonable part’s costs. VCM’s(also HCM’s) are high maintainance and come with expensive or discontinued parts. The Hobart HCM(clear plastic top) machines are the ones to stay away from; underpowered and parts extremly expensive if you can find them for the older machines. The aluminum top VCM’s(Hobart, Stephan and Berkel) (VCM40) are highly desireable and used mainly by Little Caesars and Hungry Howies. The VCM44 has been introduced by Stephan and cannot compare to the simplicity of the VCM40 and its durabilty(highly expensive attachments).

Tom Lehmann would be a good source on this since his hands are always in the dough…

Good Luck!

We purchased a used Stephan VCM 12 years ago. I can’t imagine what the reliability issues mentioned by the previous poster might be. We did have to have the cheese blade sharpened a few times in 12 years. Otherwise… no issues.

Our mix time for a batch based on 25 lbs of flour is 2.5 minutes.

VCM’s are prone to have the following items fail:

Bowl seals - manual advises to remove daily and lubricate
Shaft sleeves - if the bowl seal burns up it “scores” the shaft sleeve
Motor Bearing - water damage from a leaking bowl seal or standard wearing
drum switches - copper contacts that are constantly arcing
knurl nuts - if improperly tightened or over tightened; will come loose or snap steel washer
dough blade - knurl nut damage, employee abuse or casting failures

I have personally bought and sold over 5,000 of these machines and have designed parts for Stephan and other sources. They are great machines!

Now that you mention it, I think we did replace some seal once a number of years ago. In any case, compared to any item of refridgeration I have owned or any oven… it has been a very trouble free piece of equipment. Takes up very little space, easy to clean up, simple to use… no complaints and I would buy another one just like it when the time comes.

My experience with the VCM dates back to the late 1960’s and for my money, they are about as trouble free as you can get. Just be sure to replace the shaft seal if it begins to leak. Typical mixing time runs about 90-seconds. If you plan to mix multiple doughs back to back, it’s a good idea to fill the bowl with ice water and let it soak for a couple minutes, then pour the water into a bucket for use in cooling the bowl in preparation for the next dough, charge the mixer and mix. Repeat as needed. Since these mixers are on free standing frames, they are also portable which is a very handy feature in a small shop.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

None of our larger chains or top grade Independents use the VCM for mixing dough.
For exactly the reasons Marcus notes. His comments about Caesars are correct and I would note that after Caesars switched to the VCM they got a reputation foe card board crusts.

I know of no professional baker that uses a VCM for mixing dough. Slow and gentle mixing appears to be the best.

George Mills

Thanks everyone I thought it created a harder crust but I will probably be using it for cheese only

thanks again

Think of it like stopping a car on a painted line on a road: tender, fuller developed dough. The big Planetary Mixers move relatively slowly, and you don’t have a ton of momentum to stop.

The VCM is spinning so much faster that it is more like a starting a sports car 1/3 the distance away, hitting top speed and the trying to stop on the same spot. You can still successfully hit the target, get there in a fraction of the time with exactly the same result . . . but it takes more concentration and a little more experience and skill. You go 30 seconds or a minute long with a planetary, and not a big difference . . . . you go 60 seconds long on a VCM and you have a shot at breaking your dough.

It’s a matter of hitting the target, and what you use to hit it.Different margins of error with each machine.

You can say that again! Even a couple minutes over mixing on a planetary mixer is no big deal, but even 10 or 15-seconds on a VCM can move your dough from correctly mixed to one that is over mixed (remember that most pizza doughs are correctly mixed when under developed). Also, when using a VCM you must pre-hydrate both ADY and IDY and it doesn’t hurt to put the compressed yeast into the water and jog the mixer a couple times to get it suspended before adding the flour and other ingredients.
I’ve worked with a number of operators using a VCM with good results, but you do need to know how to use them.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Nice to know we are not a “top grade” independant.

12 years with VCM. Reputation as the best in town. Oh well.