Fall is Doughnut Season (add an NIR for the perfect Baker’s Dozen)

In the northeast, fall ushers in crisp, cool air, vibrantly colored leaves… and doughnut season.

Perfectly glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Whether you’re getting your round, deep-fried cake from roadside from the Pennsylvania Amish or from a commercial bakery, quality is key. Krispy Kreme has been serving up delicious doughnuts for generations in the USA and even across the globe, so you may have heard of them. Their mission statement says in no uncertain terms: To make the most awesome doughnuts on the planet every single day.

Most doughnut aficionados believe that Krispy Kreme does make the most awesome doughnuts on the plant. So, the question becomes: how do they execute that mission statement with such incredible consistency? The BUCHI Studios team took a little road trip to their plant in Winston Salem, NC to find out.

The Winston Salem plant prepares the powder blends that will ultimately be used to create “sweet fluffy clouds of deliciousness” in Krispy Kreme bakeries throughout the USA, as well as the concentrates, or key powder ingredients, used in bakeries around the globe. The Quality team is focused on providing consistency in their mixes to ensure that sweet taste experience from Nibley, Utah to England or even Thailand. Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has become an important measurement tool to that end.

“Anything coming in… we want to be able to test it as quickly as we can as soon as we can, so that we know all the way through the process it’s already been tested, it’s been approved, it’s okay and we can continue.

Rob Paxton, Krispy Kreme Donuts

The use of NIR to provide quantitative or qualitative measurements on flours or even proprietary mixes is not new, and its prevalence in the industry is a consequence of the technique’s very fast measurement times (from fractions of a seconds to seconds) that simultaneously deliver critical sample properties like moisture, protein, fat and ash, to name a few.

NIR is used at Krispy Kreme to ensure that incoming ingredients meet specifications before entering the process, to monitor critical parameters (like moisture, protein and fat) during blending, and to ensure that the concentrates meet stringent quantitative criteria before being shipped to bakeries worldwide.

Krispy Kreme plant worker empties bag of flour to be used to for proprietary powder mix.

BUCHI offers three NIR products to meet the needs of flour millers and bakeries. Of those, Krispy Kreme has implemented the NIRMaster and NIR-Online. The NIRMaster is a rugged, at-line NIR product with hygienic design well-suited for the food industry. This Fourier-transform (FT) NIR product is designed to provide the ultimate in spectroscopic performance, enabling exceptionally accurate and consistent sample measurements. The NIR-Online is an NIR product of extreme ruggedness that can be directly attached to process equipment like hoppers or blenders, or suspended over conveyors, and provide real-time process monitoring feedback. The difference between the dispersive NIR technology of the online sensor and FT-NIR was drawn out in a prior blog, however, both technologies have an important role to play in food processing and testing.

krispy kreme testimonial

Dollars to donuts, NIR can provide reliable measurements that can support quality control and production… but don’t take our word for it! Watch the Krispy Kreme customer testimonial.

More on: the use of NIR in milling and bakery

Quality control of raw materials and ingredients

At uploading bulk flour or at bakery sites, NIR can be used to prevent unsatisfactory loads of raw materials, check that shipments conform to specifications, determine the quality of whole and ground grains, and quantify important factors of raw materials for better quality of finished products.

Quality control of bakery mixtures and dough

At a production site, NIR can be used to predict flour yield, water absorption and dough development time, quantify baking mixture ingredients or composition (e.g. %-moisture, %-protein), determine ash content affecting baking performance, and determine starch damage and water absorption during the milling process.

Quality control of finished products

At a production site or packing area, NIR can be used to control the quality of finished products (e.g. bread, biscuits, flour, confectionery, pasta and breakfast cereal), ensure compliance with any statutory composition requirements (e.g. moisture content of bread), or provide data for nutritional labeling.

Learn more: webinar

To learn even more about how NIR is used in flour milling (the backbone ingredient for bakery applications), you can check out the streaming webinar below.

Do-nut Fear: NIR Quick-Start is Here

For those flour or bakery producers who are interested in following in the sweet footsteps of the Krispy Kreme NIR program, BUCHI offers a broad portfolio of quick-start pre-calibrations to start collecting measurements of common ingredients right away. For the more customized blends, we have NIRWare software and Auto-cal to support the NIRMaster and NIR-Online method development, respectively. We have Application Specialists to support training for in-house calibration development using NIRWare. For online applications, AutoCal is a simple push or click button allowing to directly time stamp a sample. The sample is manually collected up- or downstream (with the optional by-pass sampler a time stamped sample is even automatically collected!) at a sampling point and subjected to internal or external reference analytics. Afterwards resulting values (e.g. protein, moisture and fat mass percentage) are directly entered into the software and the calibration is automatically updated.

Auto-cal is also integrated into the operating software of the BUCHI at-line NIR product ProxiMate which is a great fit for the food industry due to the ease of use, ruggedness and hygienic design.

Measuring a flour sample on the new BUCHI ProxiMate at-line NIR system.

Visit our NIR Applications Finder to configure your solution based on the ingredients or products that are important to you, download the NIR Milling and Bakery Applications brochure, or contact us to discuss your applications.

Evolution of BUCHI NIR

February 12 was Darwin Day. Darwin, of course, was known for his theories of evolution. While his theories continue to be hotly debated 137 years after his passing, none could argue that products and companies must evolve in some capacity to keep pace with, and meet the demands of customers-at-large.

Charles-Darwin-1880-631

Borrowing the words of Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique, “Evolution is all about looking forward.” The BUCHI NIR portfolio shows evidence of evolution in that sense. 

The BUCHI NIR “big bang” occurred in 1999 with the acquisition of Buhler NIR, with incremental steps leading up to the dramatic upgrade to the NIRFlex series, and so far culminating with the N-500 FT-NIR product.

N-500_Solids_left_312093-1104

The NIRFlex bench-top instrumentation was designed to meet consumer demands in both R&D and routine testing labs for true flexibility and high performance. Hot-swap modules accommodate nearly any sample type (i.e. solid, liquid, semi-solid or slurry), while the Fourier-transform (FT) technology provides exceptional precision. A novel single-beam FT design further propels instrument performance, stability and robustness, while hardware and software components continue to meet even the demands of the  pharmaceutical regulatory agencies.

NIRMaster_NIRMaster_ProNext, the NIRMaster was added to the portfolio specifically to serve the demands of the food and feed industries, bringing with it IP-54 and IP-65 ingress protection and features designed to ensure food safety. This revolutionary design was the first to marry the accuracy of FT-NIR with a robust and hygienic standalone at-line design suited for the production floor.

NIR-Online

In 2005, the BUCHI portfolio expanded with the acquisition of German on-line sensor manufacturer NIR-Online, just a modest train ride away from company headquarters in Flawil, Switzerland. With this acquisition, BUCHI was finally able to offer a true in- and on-line NIR solution for process control. Since its introduction, the NIR-Online product has further evolved, expanding capabilities to include multiplexing, and continuing to meet requirements for workplace safety, including explosion-proof options for hazardous environments.

In late 2018, the BUCHI NIR portfolio saw its next evolution: the ProxiMate. This at-line workhorse took the speed and agility of the NIR-Online solution at-line, creating an affordable option for the typical food and feed industry customer without compromise in quality or performance.

ProxiMate_masterProxiMate offers 3 main benefits for food and feed industry users: applicative fit, extreme robustness and simple operation.

  • BUCHI application chemists have developed many ready-to-use pre-calibrations typically required by the food and feed industries, enabling accurate results with minimal effort and by users of any ability level

Of course, the idea of the “survival of the fittest” comes to mind on Darwin Day. It seems that the more recent of our evolutionary steps in the NIR product portfolio has been hyper-focused on robustness–survival in the dirtiest, harshest, or most hazardous environments. Learn more about ProxiMate and join us on this Extreme Journey along the NIR evolutionary path!