Just as trusted ingredients are critical to a food production operation; automated sampling is a critical part of any ingredient manufacturer’s processes. A nutrition and health food ingredient supplier to the food, beverage and dietary supplement industries needed to analyze representative samples of its product: polydextrose, which is a sweetener ingredient used in bakery products, beverages and baby food.
This food supplier’s customers requested it use modern biological contamination sampling techniques of its product to ensure quality.
Automated Sampling for Quality
Since product quality is only as good as the accuracy of sampling, improving sampling methods helps verify, maintain and improve product quality. The previous sampling method included taking hand samples manually at several intervals per batch, with the first sample determining whether to continue running production.
This method was labor and time-intensive and didn’t yield a representative sample of the product. Since human contamination was a concern with the existing hand sampling method, the new solution needed to be a hands-free automated solution.
The sampling solution for this food sweetener ingredient manufacturer included two Sentry B1 bulk powder samplers, a controller to allow for continuous automatic sampling of the batch to create a representative composite sample and an 8-position IC indexing cabinet. Another controller was installed to communicate with a checkweigher to determine which product was being processed. The controller enabled a batch function in order to operate the carousel for the indexing cabinet.
The two bulk powder samplers were installed in hoppers in process lines that produced various sweetener products. Each sampler featured a 10-inch, 316 stainless steel sample tube with a 1-inch wide by 3-inch long sample inlet that meets 3A dairy standards. A sample was taken when a gear-motor driven auger draws the product to the discharge point where it dropped straight down into a sterilized collection bag and then tested for biological contamination.
The samplers featured a different centerline of discharge to face of mounting clamp dimension so that the discharge chutes can drop samples straight down into collection bags. The hoppers were vibrated to maintain an open sampler auger inlet to ensure consistent sampling.
Samples were pulled on various bags, such as bag 40, bag 400, bag 800, etc. Multiple samples were put into one sample bag. If more than one sample was pulled per batch, a signal from a separate controller triggered pulling 10 samples and then rotated the indexing carousel. When switching between product types, a cleanout sample bag was used to remove any excess product left in the sampler hose and ports.
By utilizing the batch option on the sampler controller, the ingredient manufacturer collected a particular number of composite samples per hour with a constant volume that was representative of the process over the course of an elapsed time. Using this option reduced waste and the chance of over-filling the sample container, which could result in wasted product or a potential spill.
Reduced Contamination Risk and Effort
In addition to meeting customer biological sampling requirements and eliminating potential sample contamination by operators, the solution saved time and eliminated the need for someone to manually grab the samples.
The automated sampling method provided a representative sample that produced more accurate results to provide confidence in the quality of the product and satisfied the food ingredient producer’s customers.