As its name suggests, statistical process control (SPC) relies on statistical methods to control or monitor a process. AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, VA, uses an SPC unit on its mixers known as Dough Guardian, which provides data analysis, quality control and troubleshooting of the mixing process, according to Bruce Campbell, executive product manager, dough processing technology.

“All major and minor variables in the mixing process are tracked by Dough Guardian and kept in a batch file,” he said. “This batch file is presented graphically in easy-to-understand SPC charts. For example, a histogram of final dough temperatures for the third shift can be automatically displayed for the production manager when he comes in at 8 o’clock in the morning. At one quick glance, he can tell if his mixing process was under control the previous night.”

Another useful graph, Mr. Campbell added, charts total energy per batch. “Similar-sized batches of the same product should use the same amount of energy,” he observed. “If they don’t, then something has changed, and it will most likely be temperature. Dough Guardian can dispatch messages, warning emails, to selected production personnel if any of the key variables in the mixing process move out of acceptable range.”