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The XL7 online process viscometer from Hydramotion is helping to reduce losses and to maximise yield in the production of spray-dried milk powder at the H J Heinz plant in Kendal, Cumbria.

An atomiser (or spray nozzle) is used to disperse the milk feedstock into a very fine spray, which is rapidly dried in hot air.

The viscosity of the feedstock is said to be a key factor in determining the degree of atomisation and the resulting efficiency of the drying process, with important consequences for the quality of the finished product.

The Hydramotion XL7 viscometer features a hygienic clean-in-place design with a single crevice-free sensor.

Viscosity is measured continuously in real time with high sensitivity and good repeatability, unaffected by changes in the flow rate or by the amount of suspended solids in the concentrate, which could be as high as 40 per cent.

‘We decided to purchase the XL7 because of its simplicity and reliability, and we are using it to measure product interfaces and percentage solids,’ said Robin Sandman, site engineer at H J Heinz.

He added that the device has been straightforward to install and operate.

Before acquiring the XL7, the company had tried to use conductivity as a measure of milk viscosity, but found that the technique was unreliable and inaccurate.

Now, with the XL7 providing the continuous, real-time monitoring of milk viscosity, production staff can make instant adjustments to maintain product quality.

‘With the online viscometer, we have live measurement, so minimising yield losses,’ added Sandman.

The solid-rod sensor has an all-welded 316 stainless steel construction capable of coping with hostile process conditions such as cleaning agents.

As with all Hydramotion viscometers, the XL7 is factory calibrated to certified viscosity standards traceable to NIST and needs no on-site recalibration.

As there are no moving parts, seals or bearings that can wear out or fail in service, routine maintenance is minimal.

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