Loma Systems, Inc.

Jan. 31, 2006
Food temperature measurement system curbs energy costs

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Loma Systems, Inc.'s new Celsius non-destructive temperature measurement system for refrigerated food applications helps processors manage and control energy costs.

With more and more refrigerated food plants being forced to take a critical look at energy line items due to recent increases in refrigerant costs, the Celsius unit can help plant managers minimize erring on the side of excessively reducing refrigeration temperatures to meet quality parameters.

The Celsius non-destructive temperature measurement system yields consistent accuracy from –30°C to +30°C to within + 0.2°C, which makes it superior to other temperature sensing methods. Additionally, the unit includes:

  • A gold-plated chamber to minimize energy absorption and increase accuracy;

  • Easy programming for up to 100 products via control panel graphic interface;

  • Bar code scanner interface which saves operator entry time;

  • Data download to Windows NT network via Ethernet or built-in floppy disk bay.

Celsius relies on microwave thermometry to measure the passive microwave radiation emitted by organic materials such as food products. The technology represents a significant departure from the hand-held, thermocouple devices or infrared technology that are currently being used to measure temperature in food products. Additionally, Celsius allows for more frequent temperature measurements during the process and is an active component to any process management system.

Thermocouple probe temperature measurement depends largely on the operator’s ability to accurately insert the probe and read results. Further, once the probe has penetrated the product and/or package, the item is no longer suitable for sale.

Food manufacturers have reported the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of product due to this invasive measurement procedure. Some also have reported incurring additional energy costs by decreasing refrigeration temperatures to insure product quality in chilled and frozen food products.

Because of Celsius’ ability to deliver accurate results, plant operators will be better able to manage energy costs, thereby achieving fast payback for the unit.

In the case of competitive infrared technology, although the procedure is non-invasive, these systems measure surface and not core temperature. The results can potentially be misleading and can create a safety hazard situation.

Celsius measures the passive microwave energy at the molecular level being radiated by a product. As a result, the whole product is measured, accounting for temperature gradients throughout the product. The result at the time of measurement is the equilibrium temperature or what the final resting temperature of the product will be once the temperature stabilizes after freezing.

Celsius technology does not require an intrusive probe. Further, because the readings are taken across the entire product and calculated electronically, more accurate results are presented. As such, the human error element common in other technologies is removed from the equation.

In a production environment, the product is simply removed from the production line, taken to the quality lab and placed into the Celsius cabinet. Readings are taken and if the results meet the temperature parameters that have been set, the product is returned to the line and allowed to continue through the distribution cycle.