FAQs on Senware Colorimeters

Senware NA offers customers a choice of four colorimeters. They are the following:

  1. CR100 FF — on-line colorimeter installed on the production line
  2. CR100 LG — at-line and lab colorimeter to measure manual samples
  3. CR100 LB — at-line and lab colorimeter for liquids
  4. CR100 HH — hand-held colorimeter to measure color on the go

More details about our products are available in the Products Page.

Senware CR100 FF allows manufacturers to monitor 100% of a product as it goes under the obstacle camera.

So, manufacturers will be able to quantify it. This allows them to get a trended average of what they are producing over fixed intervals of time — say, half an hour, two hours, or three hours of a shift.

For a detailed look at the sturdiness and weather-proof nature of CR100 FF, visit our Build Edge Page

One, the device has to be installed at the right position with continuous access to product feed. Ideally, this has to be at a transfer point for the product/s. Two, the device has to be switched on at all times. Three, the device has to be maintained well and the lens has to be kept clean.

To know in-depth about our installation and service support, look up our Service Edge Page

Senware’s on-line colorimeter CR100 FF directly improves the quality of food products by allowing customers to change the parameters for time, moisture content, and potato varieties.

Operators are able to make changes on the fly in a production environment simply by monitoring the readings of the CR100 FF colorimeters in the production line.

Plant managers/operators can be trained to create a critical control point (CCP). It may require that every half an hour or every hour the operators have to check the device data.

Alternately, the device display can be located where operators could monitor and record the data.

L/a/b is typically an analytical measure of color on three axes. The most important one is the white-to-black scale, i.e., the “L” value. However, “a” and “b” scores give an additional level of description around yellowness/brightness, etc.

An overall L/a/b score gives users a complete description of the product color.

To know more, please look up our blog post on L/a/b Color Space

The Senware color measurement system is based on the BPC (British Potato Council) classification. There are typically five classifications — Levels 1–5 — in BPC. In this, 65 is the value of Level 1; 62 for Level 2; 58 for Level 3; 55 for Level 4; and 49 for Level 5.

On the L axis, color is scored from 0–100, with 0 being completely black and 100 being white. A “good” product would have a value between 50 and 70 (Levels 4 and above). Of course, this would be based on the potatoes used, the product being made, the product design spec, and consumer expectations.

By providing data on how much of production is within the acceptable range, Senware’s colorimeters perform light and dark proportional analysis.

There are many models. One, “manual” assessment in which operators make a subjective classification based on the BPC chart. Two, operators in some plants may use an automated color assessment technique like L/a/b or Hunter L/a/b.

Alternately, NIR gauges like the ones sold by NDC use methods like “Degree of Bake” or “Degree of Brownness”.

The Senware system automates the BPC classification with an easy-to-understand color scale for end users.

Typically, customers will specify a color spec (e.g., less than 10% of production at Level 4 and below; and/or less than 2% at Level 5) at the time of installation. Senware devices will give the customer a very high degree of control to operate within the specified range.

There are two types of colorimeter data. First is the graphical interface, the HMI (human machine interface) panel. It will show proportionally how much of the product is in Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Second, there’s the histogram. It shows the color trend from a fixed point of time in the recent past till the present.

At the time of installation, Senware will train operators/plant managers to check the histogram and make instant changes based on the color trend. Changes can be made to the fryer temperature, time in the fryer, time in the oven, temperature in the oven, or the moisture content.

As these changes take effect, the percentage of production in Levels 4 and 5 will be significantly reduced, allowing the customer to operate within spec.

Acrylamide is a chemical contaminant which forms when food is cooked. It is particularly found in starchy foods as a reaction among starch, amino acids, and sugars. Acrylamide is typically found in baked, fried, or dehydrated food products like French fries, bread, coffee, potato crisps, and extruded snacks.

Acrylamide and color are very closely linked. The darker the product, the more the presence of acrylamide.

Senware’s family of colorimeters (CR100 FF, CR100 LG, CR100 LB, and CR100 HH) are able to minimize the presence of acrylamide by measuring color and setting the acceptable grades for high quality food products.

Maillard reaction is a chemical process that creates distinctive flavors which occur when heat on a dry surface breaks down sugars and amino acids. It also leads to the golden-brown color considered ideal for appearance.

By measuring color, and setting acceptable grades for high quality food products, Senware colorimeters make it easy for food products to come off the production line with the flavors and aroma generated by Maillard reaction.

Though Maillard reaction is considered a positive for the food industry, acrylamide is one of its side products. The saving grace, though, is that typically, the darker the product, the higher the presence of acrylamide.

By measuring color accurately, Senware’s colorimeters allow customers to predict where they will have a higher likelihood of acrylamide and minimize its occurrence.

Please look up our blog post for an in-depth treatment on the browning effect of Maillard reaction.

In an automated environment, Senware’s CR100 FF, CR100 LG, CR100 LB, and CR100 HH colorimeters can be linked to the frying control (software that controls the fryers). This requires data integration.

Senware’s Colotura color-grading software syncs with the frying controls to complete the data integration. Once activated, plant operators would be able to make process changes in time or temperature whenever color starts to trend up or down.

In manufacturing plants with manual fryers, additional investments would be necessary to install frying controls.
Senware colorimeters work well in both automated and manual environments. Senware trains both operators and technical managers in automated plants to respectively read and analyze colorimeter data.

In manual environments, the best practice is to set up CCPs to make the most of Senware colorimeters.

The best way to demonstrate compliance is with data. The general rule is that the more data you have, or the better your data, the easier it is to demonstrate compliance.

Senware gauges are able to collect, measure, and record production quality data. They ae also able to look at historical data from a week ago or two weeks ago to see how production was going at that point of time.

Hence, it is relatively easy to demonstrate compliance in data recording. Compliance is a function of operators using data to make meaningful process changes to ensure production is always within spec.

Senware gauges ensure that customers do not generate substandard products that have to be discarded as waste or which have to be redone. Customers find that the cost savings gained from elimination of waste alone is enough for the investment to pay for itself.

Often, the RoI (calculated as net income/total investment * 100) is realized in the very first year of investment.

In addition, there are intangible benefits from colorimeters that are equally important but cannot be measured. The most important of this is quality.

Due to the high standards of the food products, Senware customers are able to expand their consumer base and acquire more repeat buyers. As a result, Senware customers realize that the investment is good value for money.

More details on the cost savings and productivity boost provided by Senware devices are available in the Price Edge Page

There are two types of colorimeter data. First is the graphical interface, the HMI (human machine interface) panel. It will show proportionally how much of the product is in Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Second, there’s the histogram. It shows the color trend for the last hour, two hours, four hours, eight hours, etc.

Senware can train operators/plant managers to check the histogram and take decisions based on the color trend. The operator is trained to ask relevant questions like, “Is it getting darker?” “Is it getting lighter?”, or “Is it just where it needs to be?”

Based on what operators reasonably conclude as the answers, they can then make changes to the production environment. Changes can be made to the fryer temperature, time in the fryer, time in the oven, temperature in the oven, or the moisture content.

In this way, Senware trains operators to make real-time decisions and changes based on data provided by the colorimeters.

Optical Sorting Equipment (Optisorts) are high-end optical devices for optical images. In potato-based food processing, an optisort would take a photograph of every single chip that goes underneath the camera in a mono layer. And it works off two systems — a camera- and a laser-based one. So, in effect, it takes a snapshot of the product. Unlike a colorimeter, it doesn’t provide L/a/b/ outputs or classify production in easy-to-read Levels 1–5 format.

Optisorts are extensively used in the food industry for quality control, to check whether production is either too dark or too light. But unlike colorimeters, they do not give a proportional breakdown and let users know of the color trend.

Spectrophotometers, or NIR devices, work by sending a beam of light down and filtering it. Alternately, full spectrophotometers have non-filtered wheel-based design. A spectrophotometer would merely give a reading on the 0 to 100 scale. It would just say that the product has a value of, say, 65. It doesn’t tell the user what that really means.

Optisorts/spectrophotometers are expensive devices known for their high-quality optics. They are used in contexts where accuracy is important. In contrast, colorimeters are used where repeatability and ability to capture color trends are a priority. Optisorts/spectrophotometers are usually set up in labs and are not mounted on the production line. Therefore, they cannot be relied on to get real-time data.

If a business has already invested in optisorts/spectrophotometers, it can still find value in installing an inexpensive on-line colorimeter like the CR100 FF. The former can be used for quality control, and the latter can be used to track trends and make changes on the fly so as to optimize for the production of high-quality output. It will be a win-win combination.