Selecting lab instruments is no different than choosing equipment for the processing line: pick the right tool for the job.
Often that job involves characterizing flour’s performance, and instruments specialized to flour are required. Some instruments are unique to the milling and baking laboratory, while others have wide applications in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. But all have been touched — and improved — by advances in electronic controls and software and made more robust with beefed-up motors and enhanced sampling systems. Rugged construction makes several of these new instruments suitable for at-line use in plants.
The instruments assembled in this Tech Showcase feature recent improvements in analytical technology for the bakery lab.
Gassing power evaluated with remote monitoring
To determine yeast activity, the ANKOM RF gas production system measures and records the increase in gas production as well as the temperature of the environment within each module. Wireless technology captures this data and stores it on a PC for analysis. Up to 50 modules can be managed by one system, thus allowing the operator to run simultaneous tests in multiple environments.
Automatic water dosing, wider torque range
Flour testing becomes easier and more automated through use of the new Farinograph-AT, about to be introduced to the North American market. Automatic water dosing, supplied by an integrated, temperature-controlled 2-L water tank, eliminates operator error during the addition of water to the flour in the mixer measuring head. The new model also offers a higher torque range (up to 20 Nm), better suited to investigating speed profiles up to 200 RMP. Well suited to standard flour testing procedures, it can calculate mixing energy for new applications including chocolate, chewing gum, cheese, meat, fish, full formula dough and other nonstandard applications.
C.W. Brabender Instruments, Inc.
Simple NIR prep for powdered materials
The Brabender Kernelyzer-F, an NIR instrument to use in a milling or bakery lab, works just as well as an at-line instrument. It provides fast, reproducible multicomponent analysis of protein, moisture, ash, gluten and sedimentation. Sample prep involves putting the material in the sampling cup, placing it on top of the instrument’s rotating sample tray and starting the analysis. Calibration software enables the user to create individualized operating requirements. Measurement time is only a few seconds, and an Ethernet interface supports direct network communications.
Brabender GmbH & Co., KG
(+49) 203 77880
Texture analysis suitable for at-line use
Brookfield Engineering’s CT3 texture analyzer is well suited to bakery environments because it resists dust intrusion, thus eliminating the need for frequent maintenance. It can make mechanical measurements of mouthfeel properties of baked products with the texture profile analysis (TPA) 2-cycle test. TPA is built-in to the CT3; no computer is required.
Brookfield Engineering Laboratories, Inc.
Profiles for consistent dough performance
The Chopin Mixolab measures the consistency of the dough during mixing under the influence of temperature. A single test yields information about protein and gluten quality (absorption, stability, mixing time, strength), starch (gelatinization temperature, diastatic activity, retrogradation) and enzymes (proteases in the first part of the test, amylases in the second). The unit features a 50-g mixing bowl and suits testing of standard as well as whole-wheat flour, pure gluten and pure starch. Improved software enhances repeatability and reproducibility.
(+33) 1 41 47 50 79
Combustion technique to determine nitrogen
Measure the nitrogen content of flour and, thus, its protein levels without need for caustic liquids or environmentally polluting chemicals with the elementar Rapid N Cube. Sample preparation is simple, and results are fast. The instrument employs a modification of the Dumas combustion method to determine nitrogen, reducing testing time to minutes compared with hours for wet-chemical techniques. A carousel with 120 positions is available to automate testing.
elementar Americas, Inc.
Inline NIR analysis for remote, rapid measurement
Installed in the process piping, the ProFoss analyzer uses high-resolution near infrared (NIR) technology to monitor moisture and ash in flour as it is milled and blended. Results can be fed into the mill’s SCADA system and/or presented on a terminal screen in the production area, allowing rapid adjustments of the process. Putting an analyzer after the final steps in milling will help the operator validate and adjust the final flour quality. No bypass is required, and there are no moving parts involved.
Foss North America
(800) 547-6275 and (952) 974-9892
Handheld color meter eliminates subjectivity
Portable, handheld and battery-powered, the Konica Minolta BC-10 Meter, a colorimeter, eliminates the problem of subjectivity by allowing acceptable color contrast standards (the brightness of a baked or fried product) to be established and communicated numerically in lab and production settings. Color standard and tolerance measurements can be expressed in terms of Baking Contrast Units (BCUs) on a scale calibrated so that a difference of one-tenth of a BCU corresponds to one perceptible difference in shade as observed normally.
Konica Minolta Sensing Americas, Inc.
Insects detected even when not visible
It’s possible for insects in stored grain to go undetected by the usual grading methods. The insect-o-graph picks up infestation levels as low as five to 10 infested seeds out of 30,000 good seeds. Configured as a mill, the instrument takes 1-kg samples and crushes them in less than two minutes. The presence of an insect generates an electrical spike, revealing its existence. The test is simpler, larger and faster than current X-ray methods.
National Manufacturing, Inc.
Rapid dough analysis simulates actual dough prep
The Perten doughLAB dough rheometer emulates commercial mixing, permitting research into the response of a dough to changing stress. It performs international standard methods of dough rheology using conventional Z-arm mixing action. The system includes menu-driven software and an on-board computer. It can determine water absorption, dough mixing profile, development time, stability and softening of wheat, rye and durum doughs. The doughLAB can help calculate flour blends, test new formulations and determine the effects of new ingredients.
Perten Instruments, Inc.
Inline NIR analysis monitors grain, flour streams
Whole grains, in-process flour and finished blends can be analyzed by the Perten DA 7300 Diode Array-based NIR inline system. It performs simultaneous measurement of multiple parameters including moisture, protein, fat/oil, starch, fiber and many others, and its integrated camera supports speck, color and other image analysis functions. The core diode array technology strengths are its speed, accuracy, calibration transferability and measurement of moving samples. It is designed for dusty, harsh environments. Standard Ethernet connections are provided.
Perten Instruments, Inc.
Rapidly fingerprints flour, enzyme, starch
The Perten RVA 4500 rapid visco analyzer is a cooking, stirring viscometer with ramped temperature and variable shear, optimized for testing the viscous properties of starch, grain, flour and similar foods. The instrument will analyze as little as 2 to 3 g of a sample using international standard methods. It can be used to probe the quality of wheat breeding samples at early stages in their development. It measures the effect of enzymes as well as the functional properties of starch and proteins. For examining starches, it can determine peak viscosity, pasting time and temperature, gelatinization, cold swelling and more.
Perten Instruments, Inc.
Nondestructive volume analyzer with 3D capability
Stable Micro Systems’ Volscan Profiler, marketed by Texture Technologies Corp., is a benchtop instrument that weighs and scans baked foods, generating 3D data. It accommodates products up to 600 by 380 mm (23½ by 15 in.), while a smaller system handles portion-size items such as muffins or croissants. A universal product support provides vertical sample stability without damage to the sample’s structure. As an everyday quality control tool, the Volscan Profiler can monitor finished product quality to ensure consistency and compliance with manufacturers’ and retailers’ standards.
Stable Micro Systems
(+44) 1483 427 345
Texture Technologies Corp.
Read More on the Subject:
From Lab to Line