How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

4 ways to automate your texture analysis

Testing gel samples on the Automated Linear Indexing SystemWould you like to use a texture analysis system which provides multiple loading of samples and their subsequent testing with ‘walk-away’ time for the duration of all tests?  

If high volume, repetitive testing is causing a bottleneck in your operation, automating to meet critical deadlines can be a business imperative. An investment in automation can be justified for a number of reasons, all of which directly impact your laboratory's contribution to profit.  

1: Automated Linear Indexing System (ALIS) 
This system enables the loading of multiple test samples prior to testing and does not require constant supervision by the user during testing. It is integrated seamlessly with a TA.XTplus texture analyser with quick and easy set-up and sample mounting.

Test specimens are typically located in bespoke support plates. Then, with prompted steps, testing conditions are set, tests performed, and results reported with little or no operator involvement. Skilled technicians are free to perform more sophisticated tasks, while accurate, repeatable testing information is generated automatically.  

Stable Micro Systems’ Exponent software provides a simple interface for entering set-up parameters for the entire system, making even the most complex testing applications easy to set up and operate. The software provides for entry of set-up parameters that define the configuration of the test – such as test speed, degree of deformation, speed of data acquisition – in a project based environment. It now also features a 'batch testing' window, which facilitates a multiple testing protocol designed to move the platform in either direction for regular or irregular spaced samples. The ability to add customisable operator prompts allows warning messages and instruction to the user to be configured.

The Automated Linear Indexing System is available in two platform lengths – 250mm and 600mm – and has two modes of operation. The platform can either be moved and paused for the testing of each sample, or can be moved constantly at the same speed as the texture analyser’s arm, which is ideal for peel testing, for instance.

“The Automated Linear Indexing System is the result of extensive product development work,” says Jo Smewing, applications manager at Stable Micro Systems. “High volume, repetitive testing is a common requirement of many food laboratories today, but it can be time-consuming and cause bottlenecks. Using the ALIS to automate texture analysis not only accelerates the process itself and makes it more accurate, but also frees up the operator’s time to focus on more sophisticated tasks. Improving efficiency like this can have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line – which will be welcome news for many food manufacturers.”

The system is suitable for a wide range of products, including dairy, bakery, confectionery, fruit and vegetables, supplements and tablets. Our experts can demonstrate the ALIS – and all of Stable Micro Systems’ extensive portfolio of probes, fixtures and test methods – for application throughout the food, nutraceutical and supplement industries. 

To request a product brochure, please visit our Brochure Request page.

Automation accessories - barcode scanner, remote switch, Batch Testing window2: Barcode Scanner
With the aid of a barcode scanner, a product barcode can be obtained. This can automatically select the correct project ready for testing, allowing even more automation and reducing user error. This third-party device is attached via the USB port on the PC.

3: Remote Switch
The foot-operated User Programmable Remote Switch can replicate a key switch combination. This may, for example, be used to start a test, useful if the PC is not situated adjacent to the texture analyser. The switch is connected to the PC via the USB port and the user is able, by setting small internal switches, to choose the keystroke combination to be replicated. The switch may be used up to 2.5m away from your PC.

4: Batch Testing
Exponent software now boasts a Batch Testing window which facilitates a multiple testing protocol. The ability to add customisable operator prompts allows warning messages and instruction to the user to be configured. 

Stable Micro Systems continues to develop new ways to make your texture analysis more efficient – and your life easier!

The TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

Watch our video about texture analysis  Replicating Consumer Preferences
Browse our texture analysis automation page

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