Unity Scientific delivers solutions for the cookie baking industry. In less than a minute our near infrared (NIR) systems provide simultaneous results for moisture, protein, ash, fat, fiber, starch, sugar and other parameters. Other methods used are Image analysis and wet chemistry analysis.
Cookie manufacturers make up a large segment of the baked good market and produce large amounts of various types of cookies and biscuits. Incoming raw ingredients, like flour, sugar, cocoa, etc. are mixed together in batches to form dough for each cookie type. The dough is cut to final shape, before it travels by conveyor belt through a very long oven where it is baked. There are many areas throughout the process where analytical testing is necessary to insure both optimal operating conditions and product quality.
Incoming raw materials, such as flour, can be measured to insure proper quality and to verify vendor specifications. The mixed dough can be analyzed to insure that individual ingredients were added in proper proportions or that major ingredients were not missed. Finished product can also be analyzed for moisture to verify that the process is operating optimally. Improper moisture content in the cookie could lead to poor taste and possible bacteria growth. A proper analytical testing procedure can help to insure consistent product quality and to save money by reducing re-work and improving cycle time.
Currently, cookie manufacturing companies are either performing no analytical testing or are using time consuming methods that do not provide “real time” analysis. Little testing is performed on incoming raw materials. Manufacturers tend to rely on the vendor to provide them with the proper ingredients. This is a recipe for disaster as there is no proof that the vendor is sending the proper material or a particular quality. Little is also being done at the mixer. Manufacturers trust that all ingredients are added properly based on weight.
Moisture content is analyzed as the product comes out of the oven using a variety of methods. Primary methods to analyze moisture include a 16 hour vacuum oven method or a moisture balance. Both methods use loss on drying to measure moisture content. The drawback to the vacuum oven method is that the testing time is 16 hours, meaning this test will have no impact on real time process control. The moisture balance can analyze a sample in approximately 15 minutes, but it almost 2-3 times less accurate than a vacuum oven.
The Unity SpectraStar 2400 provides a NIR solution for improving the analytical testing methods at the cookie manufacturing plant. NIR is a fast, safe, and reliable technology that will analyze at all critical points throughout the bakery. NIR is a secondary technique and is calibrated by analyzing a set of known samples. The SpectraStar 2400 can be used to analyze incoming raw materials, mixed dough, and for moisture in the finished product. Analysis time is approximately 30 seconds per sample. This speed can provide real time results that can be used to directly impact the process.
The SpectraStar can be used to measure moisture, protein, and ash in incoming flour, moisture in incoming sugar, and moisture and fat in cocoa powder. The SpectraStar can also be used to qualitatively determine that the material is received from the vendor is correct, completely removing the reliance on the vendor’s certificate of analysis.
The dough can be analyzed by the SpectraStar 2400 for fat and protein to make sure that ingredients were added in proper proportion. The dough can also be qualitatively compared against a library of good mixes to tell whether all ingredients were added and that it was mixed properly.
The SpectraStar 2400 can also analyze the finished product for moisture with an analysis time of approximately 30 seconds. This speed of analysis provides real time feedback that will allow the process to be controlled efficiently. The SpectraStar can measure moisture at similar accuracy to the vacuum oven or moisture balance that it is calibrated against. Typical performance of the SpectraStar 2400 for moisture analysis when calibrated against a vacuum oven that is working properly is approximately 0.10%.
The SpectraStar 2400 can be used to analyze at all of the critical points throughout the bakery. Raw ingredients can be analyzed to verify supplier integrity. Mixed dough can be analyzed to insure that all ingredients were added and the dough was mixed properly. The final cookie can also be analyzed for moisture. With an analysis time of approximately 30 seconds, the SpectraStar 2400 provides real-time results that can be used to control the process. Controlling the process at all of these critical points will improve product quality, reduce re-work, and improve cycle time, providing a huge positive economic benefit for the plant.