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Rudolph Research & Minn-Dak Automated Sugar Measurements – Transcript
Minn-Dak Farmer’s Cooperative MDFC is located in Wahpeton, a city in the southeast corner of North Dakota in the heart of the Red River Valley. Minn-Dak Farmer’s Cooperative was officially formed in August, 1972 and was the first sugar beet cooperative established in the United States MDFC’s processing facility encompasses approximately a 1,200 acre footprint and is owned by approximately 500 shareholders and over 100 growers.
Minn-Dak growers collectively grow over 115,000 acres of sugar beets resulting in 2.5 million tons of sugar beets for processing. Minn-Dak former cooperative produces about 3.5 million pounds of sugar every day. Routine testing of sugar throughout the production process is vital to ensure the integrity of production and the high quality of the enormous amounts of sugar produced.
Minn-Dak utilizes a fully automated sugar quality testing system designed by Rudolph Research Analytical. Warren Michael, Minn-Dak’s quality laboratory leader explains. In the automation system here. The needle descends into the sample, which then sucks up the sample through the peri pump. The sample travels through the refractometer, the density meter, up through the polarimeter, back through the Genesis, and then down through the pH meter.
The system then initializes and reads the sample to getting the measurement. To send to our board pages.
So these are some unusual samples, some very, very sticky samples, as well as some powder samples.
So how is the sample preparation for these different.
So for some samples that require more mixing sample, the powders or the molasses samples, which are a little bit stickier, what we want to do is add the sample to the cup.
But then as she starts the pump, you’ll see that she will actually stop it and then she’ll add boiling water to the samples to ensure that it’s properly mixed. So by stopping the pump, we’re still doing a weight ratio for the scale. She’ll add the hot water to ensure that it’ll actually dissolve into the water and be properly mixed.
But it’ll stir and then she’ll return it to the scale and finish the overall dilution.
And then you’ll see when she’s done, we add a stir bar to it and then we put ’em on a mixing plate to ensure proper mixing.
We have anywhere from thin juice to thick juice. Our standard liquor sample, we have A green molasses, B green, we have our continuous B samples, we have our A pan samples, B pan samples, C pan samples. So every sample, a different consistency and different strengths. We wanted dilute that. We get to that five brix solution and that enables us to get the appropriate measurements on the system.
We assign all of our samples of four digit code, so when they transcribe over on the Excel spreadsheet in which we’re sending over to our board sheets, the data’s transcribed with that code and that information’s attached to that tag. So for instance, we have a thin sample, standard liquor sample, continuous b, a magma sample.
Also, we have a thick awash molasses, crystallizer mass. We have many different samples. But to make this actually work faster, our technicians understand that our 1A I’m gonna run these four samples. So they choose the rack that’s assigned. We have automatic templates developed into the system, so they, all they have to do is select our 1A.
Push set and then all that information’s already there. This allows the technician to be quick. They don’t have to manually enter. All they have to push is save, and that sample is in the system. They push start on the wheel and. And then the sample is processed. So this is our Rudolph Auto Flex I page, and we can see all the different results that are coming through.
We have of our purity, we have our RDS, we have our pH, we have our absorption, which then gives us our color. What happens with this data next is operations doesn’t wanna look at a sheet, they wanna look at the raw data, where it’s actually gonna be categorized. So we categorize this and this is exported then into different pages in which they can see it.
For instance, we go into our board sheets here. They wanna look at colors, how are the colors doing on the different samples? So we can see the trending of the colors, the different samples throughout time. So we have our thin juice here, our thickener overflow. We have our thick sample, our B color, our standard liquor melter.
What are our pans actually doing for a color? We’ve got our A green, B green, our A wash, so all of it’s categorized so they can see the data in real time and then make the changes they need to do.
Do these red numbers mean that they’re out of scale? Um, actually, yes. We flagged them. So if they are outside of a parameter, then we know it’s outta spec.
So that tells the operator that they need to do something out in the factory. So we put those limits in there so it red flags and also flashes. So as you see these pages right now have something that’s out to spec, so it’s an indicator to the operator that, Hey, I need to take a look at this and make a change.
The biggest thing with the wheels too, is we’re looking at the purities and the rds, so we also categorize those so we can see the trending and what’s going on in the factory, and this automatically goes out to the operators. So, Through Parkview and also ifix in which shows up on the screen as soon as the samples run.
So then again, there’s all the data transfers automatic, and that data automatically goes into a sheet. There’s no human entry here. It’s automatically done for you, and that’s what the automation is. So as the data comes across, we’re using the ICUMSA Methods and those calculations to get all of our different purities and color calculations.
We didn’t make these calculations. We’re using the ICUMSA Methods to actually get the results to put the numbers out to the factory.
We’re processing over 80,000 samples this past year. If we were to toss every single one of these tubes away, that cost would be enormous. But we don’t need to do that. We just simply wash and reuse.
Whenever we get our results from instruments, we can make immediate changes.
A lot of things affect our process. The RDS. Is a big one. pH didn’t think of that, but pH is huge, and purities as well. We can make immediate changes to our process to to affect that. And the good thing is once, once that change is made, gotta wait a little bit, let the process get and equilibrium, we can test it again and see if, if our changes actually did something. So, yeah, very important to get, uh, accurate quick results, uh, especially for the operation of our, our molasses and desynchronization process.
Well, in a production process, things can change very, very quickly. Uh, lots of inputs and outputs going on all at once.
So being able to get results by the hour is gonna help us catch any sort of swings that we may be having in the process. Um, And try and adjust that as quick as possible. Something as important, like in our purification, we need to have our PHS in line. So seeing those phs come in by the hour and not really be limited on the amount of samples that we can bring in that hour is gonna allow us to be able to fine tune that whole process and be able to really narrow in what the goal that we’re trying to do.
So this is the purity and RDS one. Um, and so purity. You can’t always control what kind of purity you’re gonna get, so you have to deal with it. But here we’re able to see like, okay, how well of, um, non-sugar removal are we getting across our purification station? Are we seeing any purity drop across our evaporation?
Knowing that, okay, is our juice thermally stable to begin with? Then also looking at RDS. This is just one of the screens that show rds, but this is gonna be able to show like, This is the juice concentration that you’re experiencing. You don’t want too high, otherwise you’re not gonna experience separation that you need.
If it’s too low, then you’re asking your evaporators to work harder than they really need to. So this also is very important, and this can also tell you that if there is a odd case going on where you might have something leaking into another, if you have a stream that’s meant to be a low purity and then all of a sudden it gets.
A very high purity or vice versa, then that can scream out like, Hey, there is something going on here. Please go out and physically investigate it.
Rudolph Research Analytical is proud to support Mind Dak and other sugar producers in their quality testing efforts. The Rudolph Research Sugar Automation Solution saves sugar producers time and money and provides near realtime feedback to sugar production engineers.
To learn more about Rudolph Research Sugar Quality Instruments, please visit our firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.