The Monitor

Production Process Insights

Think Transitioning to Automatic Sampling is Difficult? Think Again.

Posted by Israel Gamboa on 10/26/20 8:00 AM
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Dairy Automatic Sampling

Custody transfers, end use processes and waste byproduct management in the dairy industry all require precise data to ensure quality, safety and compliance with regulations. Representative sampling provides dairy farms and milk product producers with data regarding dairy processes such as microbial temperatures and butterfat and protein content. Automatic sampling helps ensure that quality is maintained with a higher level of confidence while maintaining ease of use for operators.

sampling challenges in the dairy industry

Sampling in dairy applications offers insight into:

  • Butterfat content
  • Bacteria
  • Hormone levels (BGH)
  • Antibiotics
  • Moisture content

These samples should be taken from various types of dairy processes, such as fluid bed dryers, pneumatic conveying systems, gravity chutes and bag filling systems. Typical sampling points include within the drying process, at bag filling stations and at custody transfers.

While manual sampling techniques, such as hand scoop, spigot sampling and dipper/ladle sampling, are common, they fail to keep up with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards and don’t provide a fully composite look at the product.

Limitations of manual sampling methods include:

  • Not representative of entire tank because only one grab sample is taken
  • Time consuming to collect samples
  • Labor intensive to sanitize and manage multiple receiving bays
  • Operator bias, as it varies how and where a grab sample is taken
  • Safety risks, as operators need to climb onto tanks to take samples
  • Reliant on operator availability, as tanks can’t unload until sample is taken

automatic sampling solves dairy sampling challenges

Automatic sampling helps dairy producers comply with federal, state and local regulations and guidelines through 3-A Standards. It allows a composite sample to be easily and safely obtained with no direct involvement from an operator. This ensures the integrity of the sample and increases efficiency over manual sampling, since the production line can continue without downtime.

Rather than a hand scoop or shovel, an automatic sampler reduces bias and provides a highly representative sample for analysis. Because automated samplers provide a statistically representative sample, analysis data obtained from these samples offer a higher level of confidence from which important decisions about the process can be made.

sampling in the dairy production process

Dairy producers and farmers milk their cows two to three times a day, and each cow produces about 37 liters of milk every day. This raw milk is immediately transferred into a bulk storage tank for cooling to 4°C (39°F). Cream contains approximately 35% to 45% butterfat and floats to the top of the milk. The raw milk or cream is then offloaded to tank trucks and taken to a local dairy processor, where it’s homogenized, pasteurized, packaged, or turned into other dairy products.

Prior to unloading the milk or cream, the processor often takes a manual sample with a sanitized dipper and sends it off for analysis by a lab. However, sampling can take place at several points throughout the process. For example, in the three-step milk drying process, automatic sampling can help ensure milk is concentrated up to about 48% in the multistage evaporator. After it’s fully dried, sampling can ensure that the final moisture content in the powder falls between 2.5% and 4%. Ensuring this powder is properly dried helps extend the shelf life of powdered milk, reduces the weight and volume, and lowers the cost of transportation.

automatic samplers: easy to install and use

Some automatic samplers can be installed onto existing tubing or piping where milk is received. For example, Sentry sampling systems are specifically designed to allow for adaptation and ease of use. Installation is simple by adapting to a plant’s existing tubing or piping. A tri-clamp is included to ensure the sampler stays in place. Once the automatic sampler is mounted onto the process line, air lines can be routed to the air cylinder for pneumatic operation.

Once installed, the system is able to tie into an existing PLC or DCS systems. This allows operators to take samples without additional commands. After the PLC is set, the automatic sampler can take the required samples while a tank is being unloaded without an operator’s command. The sampler is typically tied to the receiving pump to ensure that sampling starts when the pump starts unloading and stops sampling when the pump stops. When the tank is done unloading, the operator can retrieve the representative sample bottle attached to the sampler for lab analysis.

Automatic sampling also supports other dairy applications such as whey powder, yogurt, creams, etc. For example, sampling whey powder is executed through a Sentry Model B1 automatic point sampler mounted on tanks, hoppers or pipes. A fixed volume of sample is extracted via a motor or a hand crank. The sample is then purged into a bottle for additional off-line analysis.

Unlike competitors’ sampling valves, Sentry Equipment customizes solutions to ensure each product fits your exact sampling needs and existing process. With Sentry, there’s no guessing if you have the right elements for a great sampling program.

Automatic Sampling: Why It's Essential for Food & Beverages

Topics: Food & Beverage, Solids & Powder, Liquid & Slurry

Written by Israel Gamboa

Picture of Israel Gamboa
As a Regional Sales Manager, Israel Gamboa applies his expertise in oil refinery, food & beverage, petrochemical & chemical, and power generation markets for customers in California and Canada. In his 15 years of Sentry experience, he’s served in Electromechanical Assembly, Field Service, Applications Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Outside Sales. Two highlights have been working with the oil sands industry for automatic sampling and various oil refineries in North America for manual sampling. Gamboa believes in making his customer’s jobs easy by listening to their wants and needs and providing a sampling solution that exceeds their expectations.