A UK-based imaging specialist is quite literally hoping to get a better look at dairy formulation, by expanding its scanning technology to aid processors working in the industry.
Industrial Tomography System (ITS), a manufacturer of technologies like the Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scanner used in hospitals, claims that its products can have many applications for dairy groups from quality control to measuring curd or whey concentrations.
Though the technology is most widely used in pharmaceutical production, the company says that its research is increasingly finding use for its products in food manufacture.
Tomography refers to a method of detailing and imaging the internal structure of a solid object or substance by observing how energy can pass through a system.
An ITS spokesperson told DairyReporter.com that although their tomography products have been used in food and beverage processing for some time, they had only recently begun focusing on dairy goods like cheese.
The spokesperson added that it had recently begun cooperating with a cheese manufacturer to test the maturation process in its products.
To perform these tests, the company said it had adapted a round sensor, which is normally used to test piping systems, to be wrapped around a cheese sample in order to identify the amount of salt and water present.
According to ITS, the findings were able to test maturity levels beyond other imaging technology.
Wider dairy use
From attending many shows and industry conferences, the ITS spokesperson said it became clear that there was growing interest in whether tomography could have beneficial applications in wider dairy processing.
"Though this technology is still young, it could be extended for a number of functions," they said. "We are already in talks with the same cheese company over further uses for the product in maturation detection."
The same maturation technology could for instance, be used to test warm cheeses, yoghurts and other dairy-based mixes, according to the company spokesperson.
This could offer a manufacturer a real time, on-site method of quality control on a production line.
In a plant-based environment, the company suggested that a tomography sensor could be added into a section of piping within a plant to identify concentrations of curd or whey present.
"Such a system would be particularly suited for mixture or separation applications like the concentration of fruits in yoghurts," the spokesperson said.