With this year’s record breaking sugar beet harvest reaching completion, the next few months are set to be a busy time for processing facilities. As with any campaign, factories will be stretched to capacity, operating around the clock, seven days a week, in order to process and refine the beet harvest into top quality sugar. At this critical period, when stress is high and time is limited, it is vital that every aspect of production run efficiently and cost effectively.
There are a number of factors during processing that require high levels of time expenditure. One major area is quality control, a highly skilled, labor intensive and expensive process. Quality analyses are required at multiple stages during the production cycle and rely heavily on a number of special analysts, sample carriers, beet-end analysts, sugar-end analysts, quality control analysts and more, depending on the type, scale, and specialty of the facility.
Imagine being able to streamline quality control processes while increasing sampling rate and reducing response time to equipment excursions. This is now possible with SCiO, an award winning revolutionary material sensing device. Using recent advances in miniaturization technology, Consumer Physics has built the world’s first lab grade micro spectrometer that fits in the palm of your hand. Portable, affordable, easy to use, SCiO has the potential to fundamentally change the way the sugar industry validates and processes sugar, from the incoming raw beets, to in-process operations, value added by-products, final crystallized sugar, and storage.
SCiO NIR analysis has many advantages over traditional wet chemistry techniques. Analyses require no sample prep or manipulation with hazardous chemicals, solvents, or reagents, and results are returned in seconds. Analysis is performed directly at each point of the processing cycle by any member of staff, expert and non-expert, with minimal training. Instant quality analysis from beets, cossettes, juices, massecuites, molasses, to final sugar. The simplicity and ease of use directly at the point of sampling allow for an increase in sampling points, greater work efficiency, and overall better process control. Plants can benefit from fast response to process drift and freeing of lab resources from routine tasks to value-add projects.
SCiO analysis isn’t restricted to inline and online plant processes. It fundamentally changes the sugar industry landscape by enabling real-time nutritional analysis during the entire growing and harvesting cycle of the beet. The maturity of sugar beet in the field, in storage areas, and when loaded into the factory can be tracked to ensure maximization of campaign sugar yield, with instant results sent to enterprise IT systems for data analysis. All major macro-nutrient parameters, like sugar, Brix, ash, dry matter, moisture, and more can be monitored for quality and trend analysis, without the need for labor intensive lab procedures.
Deploying SCiO allows the sugar processing quality control process to be radically streamlined, reducing time expenditure, lab staff on night duty, and overall operational costs. Unlike standard benchtop spectrometers or traditional wet chemistry analysis, SCiO does not require frequent calibration or scientific expertise to operate.
SCiO is a connected device which means that data is collected and reported in real time. Actionable data could then be integrated into enterprise data systems for long-term analysis of quality metrics, as well as immediate identification and monitoring of production issues. Beet sugar data from field sampling can be used to dynamically optimize harvest timing from a campaign perspective. Incoming beets at the factory can be analyzed to give the plant advance knowledge of the quality characteristics of the beets as soon as they arrive. Short and long-term trends can be tracked, analyzed and actioned. Insights can be provided to track quality and nutritional makeup over customized periods of time. Quality metrics can be used to build valuable data to maximize operational flow allowing long and short term views of the incoming/outgoing product relationship, complete with statistical summary information, allowing organizations to track raw material and finished product quality and consistency throughout manufacturing operations.