Improved reproducibility in flour testing

It's well known in the milling and baking industries that instruments used for testing the dough-making properties of wheat flour show instrument-to-instrument differences. This creates inefficiencies and can lead to disputes. Perten Instruments addresses this through new developments which benefit millers and bakers.

Key flour characteristics including Water Absorption, Dough Development Time and Dough Stability are measured with rheological devices. The results are used to make decisions regarding wheat sourcing, wheat and flour blending, flour purchasing and baking conditions. Ultimately, the aim is to provide bakers with flour of consistent quality, to reduce waste in baking and improve the quality of baked goods. Variability between instruments leads to waste and reduced efficiency, something which has been seen as normal until now.

Perten Instruments addresses this with two important improvements, offered through the doughLAB instrument which measures dough-making properties of flour.

Water Absorption alignment

Through a simple setting the doughLAB reading for Water Absorption can be adjusted to match a reference. This reference could be Perten's standard reference flour, a ring test or proficiency scheme, or an appointed reference lab. Operators would analyze samples without any additional steps, and the only result displayed is the adjusted result. While the adjustment is made specifically for Water Absorption, reproducibility of other parameters like Dough Development Time, Stability and Softening are improved as well, as they are influenced by Water Absorption to a certain extent. As a result, individual instruments would match each other closely, improving agreement among flour mills, and between flour mills and bakers.

The feature is available in the coming July 2018 version of the doughLAB software and is easily implemented. Perten's standard reference flour can be ordered worldwide through Perten offices and distributors.

Instrument Normalization

Together with Bay State Milling, a US based flour milling company, Perten has developed a second, more advanced method, which provides significantly improved reproducibility for several key parameters measured by the doughLAB.

This instrument normalization method is based on measuring a set of designated samples on the individual instrument to be normalized, and a group of master instruments maintained by Perten Instruments. The data is fed into a chemometric software which calculates an algorithm normalizing the instrument to the group of master instruments. In evaluations, the differences between normalized instruments have been significantly reduced for parameters such as Water Absorption, Dough Development Time and Dough Stability.

Instruments must be normalized on a regular basis rather than as a one-time effort. Perten Instruments offers a service where instruments are monitored and normalizations are updated regularly. Currently this service is available in the USA.

Read more about the doughLAB.