In any food manufacturing facility, a number of specialized devices are used to properly process and prepare the grains for conversion to edible food products. These might include various types of conveying equipment, cleaners, metal detectors, de-stoners, hullers, graders, dryers, color sorters, scales, bag houses, and weighing and bagging equipment among others. All of these devices are affected in one way or another by the moisture content of the grains.
Most grains need to be dried to a moisture range of 8-15% prior to storage before further processes can be applied. Since most start out in the 15-32% moisture range, grain dryers must be incorporated in any food manufacturing operation involving grains, be they corn, wheat, soybean, rice, sorghum, barley, canola, oats, sunflower, seeds, etc. Drying is required in order to assure safe storage primarily to inhibit microbial growth and to facilitate ease of production during further processing steps. Proper grain moisture and storage temperatures will also inhibit infestation of insects, rodents, birds, and mites to best conform to regulatory requirements.
Grain drying in bulk requires significant time and energy. Knowledge of the beginning moisture level is necessary in order to quickly and accurately determine drying time and necessary heat input. Temperature of the stored grain is also very important since the grain kernel may be damaged by excessively high temperatures. Seed corn, or that used in a typical production facility, for instance, should be no more than 110-120°F (43-49°C). Much higher temperatures are permitted for livestock feeding purposes.
Improper drying of grains can result in cracks, fractures, and splitting in the kernel or seed. This creates problems in both storage and processing. This stress cracking results in product that’s prone to insect and mold damage. This results in re-work, excessive labor, recycle, increased energy usage, lost product, and both customer and regulatory complaints.
Fuel, either LP or natural gas costs along with electricity and labor constitute the major expense for drying grains prior to food product production.
An additional consideration affected by moisture content is dust pollution. Occupational (personnel) health as well as environmental air quality concerns are central to meet OSHA, EPA, USEPA 2003, and other clean air guidelines such as ISO standard 17025: 2005. Prime dust conditions in exact concentrations can lead to grain dust explosions resulting in catastrophic injury and loss of property. Correct product moisture conditions can significantly reduce this risk.
As described above, moisture content is critical in all aspects of grain based production for both human and animal foods. A fast, instantaneous, non-contact, non-destructive, on line, real time moisture meter is therefore essential to this endeavor – Finna Sensors OMNIR moisture sensor meets these criteria and more. A small near infrared sensor mounts over a belt or screw conveyor, or can view grain products through a sight glass installed in a silo or other storage hopper. It can also function nicely on a sensor stand in a laboratory setting. This ensures timely moisture results that lead to increased up-time and greater profitability.
Finna Sensors has long been a staple for food manufacturing producers. Our high quality NIR and Radio Frequency moisture analyzers have helped agriculture and food processing producers for more than 70 years. Proper food manufacturing decisions are a complicated affair but can be made easier via the proper instrumentation and product support from equipment suppliers. Finna Sensors would like to be your partner in this endeavor.
The OMNIR On-Line Near Infrared Moisture Sensor not only delivers accurate data instantaneously and non-destructively, it also monitors its own health to help keep your operation running smoothly. Click the button to see how Finna Sensors can assist in augmenting your grain processing.Learn More