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Mettler develops system to minimise errors in moisture control

By Michelle Knott , 27-Jul-2011

Related topics: Lab instruments and equipment, R&D, METTLER TOLEDO

Mettler-Toledo’s said its One Click loss-on-drying system minimises the chance of errors creeping in when measuring and recording the moisture content of food as part of quality control checks.

The moisture content of food affects quality and shelf life, but measuring it is a multi-stage process that typically introduces lots of opportunities for human error, especially when handling multiple samples.

Weighing and lab specialist Mettler-Toledo’s said its One Click system manages the entire process, secures the data and carries out all the necessary calculations in order to eliminate many of the most common human errors. The system is powered by its LabX support software.

The procedure, said the supplier, starts with a shortcut on the balance’s touch screen and the user simply follows the step-by-step instructions on the balance from then on.

The inbuilt method, added Mettler, can be customized according to user requirements to ensure quality control managers can follow standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Frank Hardcastle, sales manager for laboratory products in the UK, told FoodProductionDaily: “Measuring moisture by loss-on-drying raises lots of potential issues. There’s the issue of identifying the samples as they move from the balance to the oven and back, transcription errors, calculating the results, manually documenting everything and keeping traceable, compliant records. One Click automates the whole process.”

“Accuracy is really important for customers, but measuring moisture content might also be a legal requirement for many products, like butter for example. The idea is to provide a complete solution.”

Keep track of samples

The user enters the number of analysis samples and prints relating barcode labels, which are stuck onto the crucibles.

After being preconditioned in the oven, the crucible ID is scanned with a barcode reader and the crucible is weighed empty. The method also allows for crucible IDs to be entered manually.

Mettler explained that the sample ID is entered before the balance’s built-in weighing guide accurately weighs-in the correct amount. while the ErgoClip (for round bottomed containers) ensures that the crucible is precisely positioned on the balance for secure dosing. The samples are dried in the oven and then cooled in the desiccator.

Crucially, continued the supplier, the the order in which the dry samples are weighed is irrelevant when finishing the process back at the balance, because the crucible barcode uniquely identifies each sample and ensures that the result is recorded correctly. The moisture content is calculated automatically.

LabX automatically stores all data securely in a central database ensuring full traceability. This automatic data handling eliminates transcription errors and avoids any possible calculation mistakes.

LabX contains a built-in method template for the loss on drying procedure and the Method Designer allows the template to be customized according to each user’s precise needs.

A new method can be created for each different type of food sample in order to correlate with individual SOPs. LabX also ensures balance tests have been performed according to the SOP requirements providing an even higher level of security, said Mettler Toledo.