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Product temperature monitoring assists quality control and production.

Product Temperature Monitoring Assists Quality Control and Production

Monitoring of product temperature during processing is increasingly important to the food industry. Temperature information can be a critical element in establishing process specification conformance and in BS5750 accreditation schemes. Equally important is the need for product-based temperature data as a means to troubleshoot difficult manufacturing problems.

Datapaq Ltd have responded to this need by developing the Multi Tracker System. Multi Tracker is a temperature monitoring system that travels with the product through conveyorised baking, chilling and freezing processes and records temperature data for detailed analysis on a PC. It uses proven technology already adopted for similar systems used in finishing, electronics and ceramics industries.

Peter's Savoury

Peter's Savoury, part of the Express Foods Group Europe, is a major UK manufacturer of savoury pies and pasties based at two sites in Bedwas, Cardiff. The company has an on-going, comprehensive programme of quality control. One of the sites produces baked products, such as pies and sausage rolls, whilst the other site's main business is in cooked, prepared meats. Peter's Savoury recognised the importance of temperature monitoring for the BS 5750 programme.

Datapaq approached Peter's Savoury as a potential user of the Multi Tracker System to gain input into the development of a flexible in-process temperature monitoring system for food manufacturers. Trials and discussions were also carried out with a number of other companies and food research associations.

Multi Tracker System

The Multi Tracker 8 channel data logger travels with the product through the chilling or freezing process. It can be protected against high ambient temperatures in baking ovens by a thermal barrier. Temperatures are recorded from thermocouple sensors that can be placed in the product or used to measure air temperature across the conveyor band. After a run through the process, stored data are transferred to a PC running Multi Tracker software for graphical and temperature analysis, and a summary report of the results.

Multi Tracker has been designed for use in a food factory environment - it is safe and easy to use, rugged and requires no user maintenance. It can be operated by people with little or no previous experience of temperature logging equipment. The powerful software is menu-driven with lots of help information to guide the user through the analysis. Features include temperature mean, maximum and minimum, time-at-temperature, rate of change of temperature amongst others.

Improving Temperature Measurement

The Quality Control department at Peter's Savoury traditionally spot-checked final product temperatures with hand held meters as product emerged from the travelling ovens, cookers and spiral freezers. If the product temperature was low as it emerged, the oven temperature was increased by adjusting burner controls. Similarly, if temperatures after chilling were too high then the chiller's controls were adjusted.

Although this ensured product reached the correct temperatures at the end of the process, it did not solve problems such as uneven bake in the ovens or give any information on the time the product had spent at temperatures in the freezers.

What was really needed was information on the temperature-time profiles of the products during baking, cooking, freezing and chilling - Multi Tracker could provide this. After a trial of the system, their technical manager was satisfied that such a system could meet their monitoring needs and decided to invest in one.

Production Problem Solved

Multi Tracker is now in service and has continued to be put to good use. An oven was not functioning at peak efficiency and temperatures had to be set higher than was usual to ensure that meat in the pies reached pasteurisation temperatures. The Datapaq System pinpointed one zone that was not reaching the correct temperature. When the zone was examined more closely, a fan was found to be partially blocked. Subsequent cleaning and another run through the oven showed a good temperature profile.

Setting Quality Standards

Peter's Savoury have run the system through all their ovens and freezers to provide printed records for BS 5750 accreditation. They now know what the profiles should look like for each product to achieve high quality and for the ovens and freezers to be functioning correctly. Additionally, the temperature/time profiles can be used in product specifications for their customers and the commissioning of new plant equipment.

Multi Tracker has now been installed at a number of food manufacturing sites in UK and Europe, with products varying from chickens and pies to biscuits and bread. The combination of problem trouble-shooting and process conformance documentation in a diverse range of applications is proving invaluable in the search for higher quality standards.

Datapaq Ltd are to be found at Deanland House, 160 Cowley Road, Cambridge, tel: 0223 423141.

PHOTO : The complete Multi Tracker system

PHOTO : Monitoring product temperature in a baking oven
COPYRIGHT 1991 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Multi Tracker System from Datapaq Ltd. used by Peter's Savoury in measuring oven temperature
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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