More often than not my wood looks like yours in my SM025. But sometimes it will smolder to ash. I did bend the heating element up like has been mentioned here and it did seem to help.
My experience is that if you have a short smoke of 10 hours or less you will be taking charred wood chunks out and no ash. For the longer smokes of over 10 hours you may or may not have ash. General rule is the longer the time the more likelihood of ash. Also in mine it seems that I need to be at 225 or higher to get good visible smoke. And it really smokes good for the 1st two hours or so and then tapers off.