Measuring viscosity in the production of baby milk powder
For the last few years, the global consumption of infant formula has grown worldwide (+11%) and is even more impressive in Asia. The global market for powdered infant formula is about six billion USD, representing half of the entire infant formula industry. Powdered infant formula is complex, comprised of roughly thirty ingredients (sugars, fats, minerals, vitamins, etc.) and requires advanced technology and sanitary environments to develop the numerous formulas. Each powdered formula requires different drying parameters and any change, addition, or subtraction of ingredients means new and completely redefined procedures.
There is a strategic interest in maximizing the quality and efficiency with which powdered infant formula is produced. Since it is through lengthy and expensive empirical tests that most dairy companies determine the drying parameters, producers often cut corners by mixing dried, aggregated ingredients into the powdered formula’s drying phase. However, consistent powdered formula quality is achieved when the liquid phase mixture followed by drying is monitored under strictly controlled conditions.
Real-time viscosity measurement is crucial for milk powder production
Inline viscosity measurement and control of the liquid phase (prior to drying) is the only way to optimize atomization parameters.
Manufacturing powdered infant formula is comprised of two main steps; the first is concentration and the second is atomization. Spray drying is commonly used for powdered milk since it produces a more soluble powder and facilitates enhanced organoleptic qualities, which are food-related aspects connected to the five senses. All spray dryers use some type of atomizer or spray nozzle to disperse the liquid or slurry into a controlled drop size spray. Atomization is a crucial step of the process and viscosity measurement at this key point provides valuable information relating subsequent powdered formula characteristics.
Challenges and solutions in the production of milk powder
Inefficient parameters when spray-drying infant formula in powder form are often related to the complexity of the recipe, delays and development costs.
Poor viscosity parameters during spray drying affect production efficiency and have various consequences such as:
- Unstable quality of the end product: consistency problems, ingredient variations, poorly dry extract
- Moisture content not in accordance with specifications
- Loss of nutritional value
- Less or bad taste
- Riveted batches
- Decreased shelf life
- Problems with the production process: productivity and profitability losses
- Energy wastage: drying towers use enormous amounts of energy and increase overhead costs
Measuring concentrated milk viscosity presents additional challenges due to non-Newtonian properties, suspended solids and gases, heavy process conditions (pressure, plant vibrations and contamination) and cleaning procedures.
These challenges can easily be solved when spray drying is optimized by installing an in-line viscosity meter before spraying, ie in the liquid phase. This makes it possible to speed up the time-to-market.
Inline measurement of viscosity in milk powder? Contact Inventech.
Sofraser is the inventor of vibration-viscosity meters at resonance frequencies that has been providing reliable and flexible viscosity measurements in a wide range of industries for 30 years, including in the production of milk powder. The updated MIVI sensor from Sofraser can be used in-line in spray drying processes. Because the MIVI sensor is ATEX certified, performs under high pressure (up to 250 bar) and at high temperature, the measurement is extremely suitable for the production of milk powder. Would you like more information about the MIVI sensor from Sofraser? Contact our product managers today!
Curious which inline viscosity analyzer is the best solution for your milk powder formula?
Contact Inventech, specialist in inline viscosity analyzer for (milk) powders