High demand for milk powder and infant formula means local manufacturers need a laser focus on maintaining the highest standards in quality control and manufacturing. Food & Drink Business looks at solutions from SICK that can help businesses improve their processes. This article was first published in Food & Drink Business April 2021.
Vacuum treatment to remove both free and occluded oxygen of freshly dried milk powder before it is packaged and after it is placed in the cans is crucial to ensure product integrity.
Using the wrong sensors to measure oxygen can cause accumulative high costs due to long and expensive downtimes; high expenditures because of frequent or unplanned maintenance; and as a result, inefficient production processes.
The TRANSIC100LP provides a simple means of measuring oxygen (O2) or the absence of O2 in various process steps of the milk powder production. The transmitter uses Tunable Diode Laser Spectroscopy (TDLS) to measure O2 reliably and accurately with minimum maintenance. The technology, proven in the world of high-tech analysis, is now in a field instrument that is available in-situ or as an extractive version, depending on the site’s requirements.
The TRANSIC100LP outperforms electrochemical cell sensors for measuring O2 concentration despite the cell sensors having an initial low cost and weight. Issues include frequent replacement and calibration, depleting sensor reaction, slow response times, high sensitivity to humidity and a lack of diagnostic functions.
At the filling hopper
At the filling hopper of a dairy powder process, the powder is often pre-gassed with nitrogen to reduce life shortening O2 concentration from air surrounding the powder prior to final packaging.
This ensures a sufficient powder stirring with inert gas, despite regular refilling of the hopper. The TDLS transmitter can accurately measure 02 from 0-5 vol. per cent to 0-100 vol. per cent without being affected by particles, flow or vibration.
Scanning the belt
Oxidation causes deterioration which can impact the shelf-life of the product. To reduce this risk, the packaging process is purged with a modified atmosphere, e.g. 100 per cent Nitrogen (N2). For a balanced cost/benefit ratio of expensive inert gas it is often mixed with ambient air, which can be easily controlled. TRANSIC100LP’s ability to provide almost real-time measurement results reduces the amount and therefore cost of expensive inert gases.
Room & environment monitoring
Within all production processes using inert gases such as N2 or CO2, the ambient O2 concentration is measured as a safety precaution against suffocation. TRANSIC100LP monitors the O2 content in rooms or production halls. As soon as the O2 level passes a pre-defined threshold, an alarm can be triggered. Compared to traditional electrochemical oxygen sensors, laser transmitters enable simple on-site calibration and almost no sensor drift to significantly reduce cost of ownership.
Laser transmitters offer reliability, accuracy and fast measuring results to improve processes and minimise costs.