Cut costs by keeping consistent

Related tags Measurement Apv baker

A new system designed to monitor product consistency and
potentially provide significant cost savings for cereal, snack and
pet food manufacturers has just been launched in Europe by British
group APV Baker.

Currently on display at the company's new Food Innovation Centre, itself opened just last month to showcase the wide range of APV Baker products for the modern bakery trade, Aquadens is an automated, in-line bulk density and moisture measurement system for companies processing any dry flowing product, while the Reliadens is designed to provide accurate measurement of bulk density only.

The system was developed by Kansas-based III Sigma, and has already proved a success in the North American market. It is now being distributed throughout Europe by APV Baker.

For foods sold by weight but dispensed by volume, or retailed with a nutritional assurance, inconsistencies can cut into profit, and this is where the Aquadens system can help, according to APV Baker. Units can be installed anywhere in the process from raw materials to finished product, and are said to help achieve strict control of bulk density and moisture by providing the information needed to make corrections before problems get out of control.

Applications include process control of expanded and fried snack lines and cereal systems. For example, one snack manufacturer uses a feedback signal from an Aquadens unit to adjust fryer oil temperature and thereby control product expansion, APV Baker said. Controlling expansion in this way not only ensures consistent taste, texture and pick up but also reduces bulk density variation. In many cases this enables manufacturers to reduce bag size and, therefore, packaging costs.

Aquadens also helps reduce costs by limiting cases of out-of-specification products, and is also said to bring greater consistency in cooking and frying and improved dryer control. It also eliminates the labour costs and imprecision of hand sampling, the company said.

A consistent measure of product is taken directly from the product stream for analysis; bulk density is measured by weight and moisture by radio frequency. The measurements can be repeated as often as every minute, so the data collected is near real-time. This ensures that adjustments, manual or automatic, are made immediately to address any variations.

Both the Aquadens and Reliadens units are compact, and will retrofit into virtually any existing process line, allowing data to be obtained from locations inaccessible to human operators - up to 60 metres from the controller, according to APV Baker.

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