Baking mixes are complex mixtures of dry goods that are used to make breads, cakes, waffles, pizza dough, biscuits, muffins and more. Typically baking mixes are compounded together as a dry mixture to which water, oil, eggs and milk might be added to create the dough for the final product. This might be used in the plant to make the final product, or packaged in bags or boxes for retail or wholesale distribution to grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants.
The challenge to all baking mix manufacturers in today’s economy is to operate plants as efficiently as possible, with a focus on quality and keeping costs in check. Classical analytical tests and/or baking tests to analyze that the baking mix has been mixed properly and all major components have been added can take hours to complete with high costs for reagents and consumable items. Sites without on-site analytical laboratories may have to send samples to outside laboratories, which can take days to return results. Such time lag can hurt plant efficiency by causing product to be held in quarantine until these tests are completed.
In most baking mix operations, ingredients are added by weight to very large mixers ranging anywhere from 1,000-20,000 lbs. Once all ingredients have been added (either by an automated system or by an operator dumping material into a mixer), the mixer is started. Typically, a mix is judged to be completely mixed either by an experienced operator pronouncing it “mixed” or by taking the mix and baking it to make sure that the final product will bake properly. Having an operator subjectively determine that a mix is finished is dangerous. There is no guarantee that the mixer operator will be accurate. Even the most seasoned operators can make mistakes. Once the material in the mixer has been sent to packaging, there is no retrieving it. This means that any bad batch will have to be thrown away, wasting money.
Having to bake each batch in the mixer is also not desirable as it may take over an hour before results are available. This lost efficiency leads to fewer batches being produced and has a direct negative financial impact on the plant. These methods also do not lend themselves to proper documentation. Government regulations and the threat of future legal action are increasingly requiring companies to provide documentation for each batch that is manufactured.
Unity Scientific has robust analytical solutions that can be customized to your specific bakery mix. Each batch can be analyzed for proper composition and constistency. Since results are generated in approximately 30 seconds, a quick decision can be made as to whether the mix is complete or needs to be mixed longer. All results are documented and stored with date and time stamps on the instrument, giving documentation for every batch that is produced by the plant.
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