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Moisture Measurement

Understanding Moisture and the Role it Plays in Manufacturing Processes

Moisture measurement has been studied for many years for its impact on production quality. It is one of the most critical process variables in the manufacturing of lumber, agriculture/food, fertilizer, frac sand, and paper, among many others. For these facilities, moisture is measured in multiple locations to confirm the impact on product quality is controlled. In many cases, too much moisture results in total product loss. In others, it can have serious health consequences. Therefore, sensors that can detect even trace amounts of moisture are critical.

We use a variety of ways to detect moisture including weight, radio frequency and near infrared technology. All online systems use various techniques to indirectly measure moisture that approximates results from an oven-dry test in a lab. Depending on the application, we will work together to select the right measurement technique to meet your process’ requirements.

Moisture Meters

Finna Sensors offers a wide range of portable moisture meters to meet industry’s moisture measurement needs. These meters provide instantaneous moisture results without the need for time-consuming gravimetric oven moisture analysis, enabling timely machine adjustments and keeping your operations on track and on budget.

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Why does moisture sensing matter?

In the year 2000, a very large lumber manufacturer was sued by homeowners for $100m due to mold claims. This claim forced significant changes throughout the industry as mills were forced to confirm every piece of lumber produced must be below a regulated standard. Other examples are plentiful, but a large yogurt manufacturer was required to recall its entire 2 weeks of production in 2013 due to mold present in its containers. Complications included nausea, headache and other digestive issues. The recall spread to Arizona, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. Aside from the obvious health issues, the company took a large hit to its reputation. This kind of error, even entirely unintentional, can cause years of damage until consumers feel safe purchasing the product again.

The FDA and other government regulatory bodies have worked hard to set rigorous new standards for food, grain, and building products. These standards have improved the safety standards throughout the industries. Manufacturers must upgrade testing to meet these standards. Failure to meet these new standards will be met with large fines or worse.

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What does measuring moisture accomplish?

The benefits of measuring moisture are both economic and regulatory. In many cases, being able to determine the moisture content of product as it moves through a production process can inform the operator of various conditions to help optimize manufacturing. As an example, in Frac Sand, NIR sensors measure moisture both pre-and post- dryer. This enables the operator to adjust drying conditions as material is moving through the process. If the incoming material is very wet, then the operator can slow the line speed to allow for additional drying. The outgoing material is measured to confirm the required moisture content is met for quality control purposes. The same is true for fertilizer and many other industries that dry material as part of the process.

Regulatory compliance is another benefit of using moisture sensors. Product that falls outside of federal and state guidelines would be lost. Worse, if this product does slip by inspection and reaches end-users, it can result is large fines. Therefore, using moisture sensors for quality control has become required.