Do You Know How Cereal Flakes Are Frosted?

Cereal Process DiagramThose delicious flakes frosted with sugar and similar spices like cinnamon to mini-wheat biscuits are carefully monitored for accurate FDA Food Safety and Compliance Standards.  Process Sensors helps make these important measurements.  Measuring the water based sugar coating and vitamin enrichment stations is very similar to our PSC water based coat weight measurement for labels and tapes.  The sugar water ratio is well controlled with precise metering systems and liquid/solid refractometry analyzers.

Cereal flakes were invented by Dr. John Kellogg and his brother Will Kellogg (W.K.) in 1894, at their Battle Creek, Michigan, sanitarium. They were experimenting with wheat, trying to make “a digestible substitute for bread,” when they accidentally left a batch soaking in water overnight. The next day, they discovered it could be formed and baked into little flakes.

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After four more years of trial and effort, the Kelloggs successfully applied the process to corn. However, they only sold cornflake by mail as a health food, to patients and former patients; Dr. Kellogg wasn’t interested in distributing it to the general public.

Flaked and sugar flaked cereals soon became an American staple with milk as a source of fortified Vitamin D from multiple suppliers.  The flakes are sprayed with a sweet (sugary) solution at approximately 230 degrees C followed by rotary drum dryers and then a vitamin spray bath.  Click Here to see a video on the process.  The dried and sugary vitamin enhanced flakes are then packaged for supermarket shelves.

Each unit operation contributes to shelf life and taste, and benefits from monitoring with Near Infrared (NIR) Process Analyzers.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Why Is Veteran’s Day Always On November 11th?

History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

As we know, WWI did not end all wars and after WWII and the Korean Conflict what was originally a celebration of Armistice Day  became Veteran’s Day to honor the Great Sacrifices of Many who fought for our Freedom Today.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Read more here.

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Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

Pressure Sensitive Adhesives (PSA) continue to expand their applications in packaging, converting, assembly, bookbinding, nonwovens, foot wear, automotive and many other markets. Infrared (IR) and Near Infrared (NIR) transmitters offer economical tools to improve Quality Control and Assurance while increasing Production Opportunity with improved Process Control.

Near Infrared Transmitters can measure wet end water based coatings, dry end organic depositions, pre-treatments and hot melt adhesive thickness.  Roll, Doctor Blades, Air Knifes, Die Bolts and other coaters benefit from these measurements.  These NIR transmitters can also measure moisture at the dryer exit and after re-moisturizing unit operations to reduce lay flat and edge curl.  Mounting these transmitters on a scanning frame equipped with a position encoder, the web profile can be mapped on a PC to assist in maintaining a uniform profile across the web.

Infrared Pyrometers and Thermal Imaging Systems allow for temperature measurements to be incorporated into the control scheme and detection of hot spots in the manufacturing process.  Pyrometers can be mounted at the exit of the dryer or internally for specific zone measurement.  Thermal Imagers can identify cold and hot spots across the product to identify problems in unit operations that can then be corrected.  Together NIR and IR tools greatly assist the development of consistent and uniform manufacturing while reducing the cost of manufacturing in-specification product.


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Guy Fawkes – Bonfire Night in the UK!

November 5th is celebrated with Bonfires, Guy Fawkes masks and music throughout the UK.  Generally folks appreciate the revelry and often overlook the story.  Guy Fawkes tried to kill  King James and Blow Up Parliment back in 1605 over religious persecution.  Click Here to Read More.     V is for Vendetta is a very interesting movie taking place in the future that makes use of the now famous Guy Fawkes mask and story.  Below is an excerpt from the movie in which Hugo Weaving as V delivers a stirring speech!


Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot…

“Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant and vanished.”

“However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.”


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Happy 4th of July!

May Freedom Ring!







SnackEx 2015 Istanbul

SNACKEX 2015 closed its doors on 11 June after a record attendance of over 2,600 snack industry professionals from 83 countries.

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SNACKEX is organised by the European Snacks Association (ESA) and is the only savoury snack and snack nuts event in Europe serving as the pre-eminent business meeting place for the whole industy.




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OPC, Kepware, DDE, Ethernet, Modbus/TCP! What Does All of This Mean?

Software communication options can sometimes be confusing and complex when first encountered.  Listed below is a glossary of common acronyms, what they represent and a brief outline of our PSC Viewer Suite Software and Guardian Communications.  Please visit our Process Sensors Website for more information.


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Ethernet:  Physical method of cabling that connects devices on the Ethernet network.  Basically, there are two types of Ethernet, Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN).  LAN example might be computers in an office connecting to a central server.  WAN example might be doing your banking over the internet.  Our transmitters and Guardian Systems communicate on a Local Area Network.

IP (Industrial Protocol):  The Internet Protocol is the most basic protocol. It simply moves a packet directly from one Ethernet device to another Ethernet device. Almost everything moves across the internet using IP.

TCP (Transport Control Protocol):  TCP is a protocol that creates a connection between two nodes over Ethernet. TCP maintains a connection and uses acknowledged messaging to transfer messages between two devices. That means that all TCP messages generate a reply. If there’s no reply, there’s an error.

OPC:  For old timers, OPC is OLE for Process Control.  OLE is Object Linking and Embedding.   These are Industry Standards for communication platforms so that end users and suppliers agree to exchange data in a specific format.  Now OPC is Open Platform Communications.  It is a Client / Server technology. One application acts as the server providing data and another application acts as the client using the data. OPC is a widely accepted industrial communication standard that enables the exchange of data between multi-vendor devices and control applications without any proprietary restrictions.  OPC has also grown beyond its original OLE implementation to include other data transportation technologies including XML, Microsoft’s  .NetFramework,  and even the OPC Foundation’s binary-encoded TCP format.

Kepware is the communication platform we have selected for OPC communications.  End user needs to purchase a copy of Kepware Runtime and download for some nominal fee like $100 for the system that is communicating with the Guardian (or transmitter).  This is only required when customer requests OPC communication.

DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange):  DDE is a method for exchanging information between applications running on Windows.  A simple example is exchanging data between Word and Excel.  All you really need to know is that it is a Windows based method to exchange data between applications.  It’s been working since Windows 2.0!

CIP (Common Industrial Protocol):  CIP is the basic component that forms the basis of EtherNet/IP. There are two parts to CIP, an Object/Attribute Library and a Messaging structure.  CIP devices use a very specific data model based on Objects (related collections of data) and Attributes (Data Identifiers).  CIP devices have a very specific set of messages that they support. There are Explicit Messages and Implicit Messages. Explicit messages are sporadic, one-time messages requesting data values or setting parameters. Implicit messages are ongoing I/O messages that are exchanged between two CIP devices.

EtherNet/IP is a very complex protocol but you can break it down into this; the Scanner (usually a PLC) exchanges data buffers with each Adapter. The Scanner sends Outputs to each Adapter device. Each Adapter device sends some Inputs back to the Scanner.  This is not our physical across the web scanner, it is the PC scanning the network.  The Adapter is our transmitter or Guardian.

Modbus is a serial communications protocol that allows multiple devices to be attached to the same network.  An example might be connecting a moisture transmitter and separate temperature transmitter to the same network.

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is a system operating with coded signals over communication channels so as to provide control of remote equipment (using typically one communication channel per remote station). The control system may be combined with a data acquisition system by adding the use of coded signals over communication channels to acquire information about the status of the remote equipment for display or for recording functions

RS-485 is a Recommended Standard for local networks and multi-drop communications link that transmits data at 35Mbit/s at 10 meters and 100 kbits/s at 1200 meters.

HMI is a Human Machine Interface such as a PLC or a PC equipped with Wonderware or such.

Both EtherNet/IP and Modbus/TCP are Ethernet Application Layer protocols that use the TCP and IP protocols of the TCP/IP stack. They are both highly structured ways of moving data between automation devices in an industrial application.  The difference is in how data is represented to the network. EtherNet/IP represents data using the CIP object structure. Modbus TCP represents data as a series of registers (16-bit unsigned values).


Guardian System Communication as an Example

Our NIR (Near Infrared) Transmitter communicates to the Scanner Controller Board via RS-485 Modbus Protocol.  This is also how our transmitter communicates with the Operator Interface (OI). The Scanner Control Board communicates with the Guardian PC via Ethernet link using a Windows based Stand-Alone-System.

PSC Viewer Suite Software for the Guardian meets the needs of our customers.  Customers can get data on scan and zone averages for archiving.  Viewer Suite is not limited to just Ethernet.  It can use USB and serial links (RS232 and RS485 multi-drop) as well.

Viewer Suite Software is not limited to scanning frames. It can be connected to multiple sensors and scanning frames at the same time.   PSC Viewer Suite Software is smart.  If it’s connected to a transmitter only, it presents transmitter software.  If it’s connected to one or more scanners it automatically detects that and pulls up Guardian Viewer Suite Software.  It can also recognize when it is connected to a mix of scanners and static transmitters.

The Viewer Suite Software saves Zone /Average data to Excel, CSV, XML and to its built-in supplied industry standard SQLite database which is used for simple roll reports.   When an HMI is controlling the Guardian or advanced options are required OPC/Kepware and Modbus/TCP are available.

Super Bowl Combatants

Process Sensors Congratulates the AFC Champion New England Patriots and

NFC Seattle Seahawks on their victories in the Conference Finals and look

forward to the Super Bowl!


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Happy Ice City from Process Sensors for New Year’s!

Process Sensors wishes to Gift You with a view of the Annual Harbin Ice Festival in China!  An incredible City of Ice!


Harbin Ice Festival Wikipedia Entry Entered in Part Below Click to Learn More from Wikipedia.


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The festival originated in Harbin’s traditional ice lantern show and garden party that takes place in winter, which began in 1963. It was interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been resumed when an annual event at Zhaolin Park was annnounced on January 5 in 1985.

In 2001, the Harbin Ice Festival was merged with Heilongjiang‘s International Ski Festival and got its new formal name, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

In 2007, the festival featured a Canadian themed sculpture, in memoriam of Canadian doctor Norman Bethune. It was awarded a Guinness Record for the world’s largest snow sculpture: 250 metres long, 28 feet (8.5 m) high, using over 13,000 cubic metres of snow. The composition consisted of two parts: the “Niagara Falls” and the “crossing the Bering Strait” (the latter depicting the migration of the First Nations).

In 2014, the festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with the theme “50-Year Ice Snow, Charming Harbin”. Various fairs, competitions and expos were held from 20 December 2013 to February 2014.[2]

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (Chinese: ????????; pinyinH?’?rb?n Guójì B?ngxu? Jié) is an annual winter festival that takes place with a theme in HarbinHeilongjiangChina, and now is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. At first participants in the festival were mainly Chinese, however it has since become an international festival and competition. The festival includes the world’s biggest ice sculptures.[1]

Officially, the festival starts on January 5 and lasts one month. However, exhibits often open earlier and stay longer, weather permitting. While ice sculptures are erected throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas:

  • Sun Island is a recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city, which features an expo of enormous snow sculptures.
  • Ice and Snow World is an area open during at night which features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3′ thick ice taken directly from the Songhua River. At first China celebrated it then Harbin took over.

During the festival, there are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks in the city. Winter activities during the festival include Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.

Harbin is located in Northeast China and receives cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 °C (70.2 °F), and –16.8 °C (1.8 °F) in winter. Annual lows of -35 °C (–31 °F) are not uncommon.


Harbin China Ice Festival 2012

What Really Are the Zero and Span Calibration Controls?

Fair enough question.

The answer can be expressed in a couple of ways depending on your background and interest.

Moisture, oil/fat and coat weight etc., are all components measured with established Near Infrared (NIR) Technology.   Moisture is measured at 1.94µ or 1.42µ. Organic coatings are measured at 2.34µ and oils/fats at 1.72µ.  These are well established applications in theory, practice and documented literature.

The accuracy of a NIR transmitter is dependent upon calibration samples across a realistic dynamic range.    Normally 3 to 5 samples throughout the dynamic range and including the set point target are the best approach for calibration.  Near Infrared absorbance and constituent content (lab value) enjoy a linear relationship.  The transmitter must be most accurate at the set point.

The zero and span calibration controls are used to make the Near Infrared transmitter display values match the lab values within the limitations of laboratory accuracy and sample handling.  Collecting lab vs. NIR Transmitter values allows for a linear regression to be performed that will yield a correlation    co-efficient, standard error, slope and y-intercept.

Our “Zero” is an offset adjustment, meaning that if the measured value is 2% up or down, that it just needs an offset or zero adjustment around the set point.  The “Span” is a sensitivity adjustment, meaning that for a given change in absorbance, there is a given response in the digital measurement.  The fully automatic calibration sequence adjusts the zero and span for the operator based on these calculations to provide the correct Zero and Span for the analyzer to accurately measure and display the NIR measurement.

Enter Calibration Parameters of Lab vs. MCT Transmitter

Blog Page


Correlation Co-efficient, Standard Error and New Zero and Span

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Large 5.7” Display with Analog Outputs & Ethernet Communications

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Cross Direction Web Profiles


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