Analytical tools to ensure consistent flour quality production

15 February 20219 min reading


Corinne CHARRIÉ Marketing Solutions, Food Leader EMEAI Region PerkinElmer

With decades of experience in the flour milling industry, PerkinElmer, with the ownership of Perten Instruments, is uniquely positioned to help grain processors for NIR compositional analysis, functional specifications, mycotoxin testing and more. We deliver the instrumentation, software, methods and analysis tools you need, as well as deep-seated knowledge of the challenges for balancing safety and nutritional value in a changeable ingredient marketplace.

How do we define flour quality? There is no single definition. Different end products require different flour qualities. What types of flour do you mill and who are your customers? We have testing solutions and expertise to help you mill the right flour, consistently.

It should be noted that quality in reference to flour is sometimes misconstrued, as many times it could be more appropriate to refer to characteristics. A good soft wheat flour may have excellent “quality” for making good biscuits and will likely be of poor “quality” – read inadequate - for bread baking. So, when discussing quality, it must be product-use specific. Flour use dictates its properties. Generally, there are 3 types of flours:

Low in protein 6-11% Cakes, cookies/biscuits, crackers • High in protein 11-14% Bread • Durum Higher in protein and gluten strength, for semolina, pasta and noodles

PerkinElmer focuses on helping millers to create the right flour for its intended use. Additionally, our goal is to help someone like a baker to make better cookies for instance – not make them an NIR or another analytical instrument expert. What do flour milling companies have to do? To a large degree, industrial flour milling is the same process around the world.

flour milling It is the demands placed upon, and options available to millers in different locations, that create different strategies to design the flours required for their local markets - different baked products, different wheats, different quality issues, import/export markets and more.

PerkinElmer, with the ownership of Perten Instruments, has decades of experience in the flour milling analytical field. Ensuring consistent grain processor is about understanding the flour miller needs in compositional analysis, functional properties and product safety. We have the analytical solutions and methods to optimize yield and flour quality.

At wheat receival, our instruments help ensure you receive the wheat quality you purchased. The instruments can guard against taking in sprouted or mycotoxin-infected grain, segregate for protein, and monitor tempering.

Our online systems provide moisture, protein, and ash results in real time, allowing you to optimize blends and flour yield.

And you can test final products for rheological properties such as water absorption, mixing time, mixing tolerance, and other properties such as Falling Number, moisture, protein, ash, starch pasting, and more.

All this testing ensures that you deliver a consistent and quality flour that meets the needs of your various flour users.

Measurements are required at 3 key stages for consistent quality in flour production. flour production

1. At wheat intake - Managing wheat supply and purchasing the right wheat When you know the properties of the wheat you are buying, you can produce the flour your customers need. Make sure you get what you pay for. For doing so, it is essential to measure moisture, test weight, protein content; assess sprout damage and gluten quality. At grain intake the Falling Number instrument is essential to detect

Falling Number® 1000

sprouted shipments. One truckload of sprouted wheat can lower the grade of the entire content in a silo. You cannot afford to take the risk and not test. The Falling Number Method is the world industry standard and accepted method for detecting sprout damage in flour, wheat and other grains. Perten Falling Number models are the only validated instruments worldwide for the approved methods.

Moisture, Protein and Test Weight can be measured at wheat receival, in less than 50 seconds, with the most popular grain analyser, the Inframatic 9500.

The Glutomatic System is a simple, rapid and reproducible method to perform at the grain reception and provide functional information of gluten without extracting the flour. Today, you can upgrade to the new Perten Glutomatic 2000 system. It has improved features for better accuracy, repeatability and traceability. 2. In the mill - Mill wheat and create the flour for your customers You need to track key parameters to optimise ingredient use, increase yield and ensure consistency during processing. Making the flour is about blending wheat, cleaning, tempering, grinding and sieving to get your wheat products. Measure protein and moisture content accordingly, control flour extraction with continuous ash measurements. Collect samples in the mill and assess functional properties.

Perten Instruments Perten Glutomatic® 2000 System

Accurate moisture analysis ensures correct payment and storage. Rapid and accurate moisture measurement helps the millers optimising tempering. Moisture is also important in ground wheat for correct Falling Number measurements.

The PerkinElmer DA 7350 In-line NIR process sensor will keep controlling the ash content in real-time for any production batch. The roll stands can be adjusted whenever needed to achieve the target value for the ash content. In addition, any sieve issue will be highlighted with the DA 7350 built-in camera and video, visible on the user interface. Colour measurements, specks count, protein content and moisture are part of the multi-components real-time analysis.

wheat flour In-Line DA 7350 NIR User Interface

You can collect samples in the mill and run Falling Number tests to calculate blends of flours and achieve a specific Falling Number result, or calculate malt addition.

flour millers In-Line
DA 7350 NIR

The use of real-time DA 7350 In-line NIR process sensor protein analysis for gluten addition give major benefits: reducing safety margins to achieve the protein content specifications and saving on expensive ingredient. Protein content does not guarantee flour performance. Many flour millers use the Glutomatic system to test flour streams for gluten formation quantity and quality. The results of the Glutomatic tests are used to calculate blends of flours and vital wheat gluten addition.

3. At load out - Verify end-product consistent quality & performance Consistent flour quality is also about shipping flours with same characteristics, over time, whatever variability you may have from incoming wheat, ambient temperature and relative humidity in the mill, wear in the rolls, sieves and process equipment.

Checking end-product quality and performance require a few specific tests on the flours you sell and test bake to observe end-product behaviour.


For end-product quality, the In-Line NIR process sensor is of great help to assess the consistency of the complete batch for protein, ash content, moisture, water absorption, wet gluten and more. The DA 7350 NIR sensor averages 20 measurements every second. By doing so, you will get a full report summarising the results obtained every second during the loading time of the flour batch. Therefore, you can guarantee the consistency and regularity of the complete batch to the contract specifications agreed with your customer.

Consistent flours functionalities for protein and starch characteristics will require tests in the laboratory. For protein characteristics, you will be testing for dough behaviour and measure dough development, stability, softening, mixing time and more. For starch characteristics, measuring enzyme effects, starch pasting and starch damage, will give you a complete picture. The following analytical instruments will help you to run the above tests.

The doughLAB determines water absorption of flour, dough development time and other dough mixing parameters. The instrument uses the 10 minutes AACCI 54-70.01 approved highspeed mixing test. The 10 minutes test increases lab throughput and efficiency. It improves analysis results by making it easier to interpret samples with long development times, indistinct development peaks and multiple peaks. In addition, the high-speed method more closely resembles today’s bread making processes.

Millers can quickly calculate flour blends to meet target water absorption specifications using the software. Perform complex “what if” analyses without having to run lots of tests. These blend models can be used to manage crop changeover issues and design flour blends to maintain specifications for specific purposes and products while reducing costs.

Bake laboratories can create specific tests to study flour performance using variable temperature and high speed/ energy mixing. High torque tests are used for crumbly doughs such as pastry, cookie, cracker, pasta, noodle and other low water absorption dough formulations. Defined energy input tests – which cease mixing the sample once the specified amount of mechanical energy has been applied – can be used to produce repeatable samples for further testing such as texture analysis and test baking.

Recently, we’ve implemented the Bowl Correction Factor (BCF), a bowl-specific water addition adjustment for each test, which is a key benefit to consistent flour specification.

The Glutomatic test and gluten quality is critical to the bread making quality of wheat, and different types of end products require flour with different characteristics. Gluten is the functional component of wheat protein. Its properties determine dough characteristics and influence final product quality. The Gluten quantity and quality affect the dough elasticity, gas retention, expansion properties and will largely influence the final baking quality. Furthermore, the ability to form a non-sticky dough, to maintain the desired dough firmness and to achieve constant pasta cooking characteristics are all influenced by the gluten properties. The Glutomatic test measures Gluten Index characterizing the gluten strength as well as wet gluten content, dry gluten content and gluten water binding capacity.

Perten Gluten Index method is the world standard test for gluten quality and quantity in flour, wheat, durum and semolina. The method is also used for quality control during vital wheat gluten production.

Before shipment, the Falling Number test ensures optimum starch functionality for your customers.

In addition, fingerprint your commercial flours starch pasting properties, with the Rapid Visco Analyser (RVA). You can reference RVA curves for each of your products and make sure that all recipes have the right ingredients and behave accordingly upon cooking, while complying with your customers specifications, for any batch produced.

Managing consistent flour quality is possible when using the correct analytical solutions at the right time and in the right place. Quality testing is very much connected to avoiding waste and ensuring efficiency in production. Flour millers want to produce with a consistent quality, and to do so efficiently, with a minimum of waste. This is a way to ensure brand protection.

PerkinElmer is a global company committed to innovating for a healthier world. We create the instruments, tests and software used by processors, laboratories, scientists and researchers to address the most critical challenges across science and healthcare.

We strategically partner with customers to enable earlier, more accurate insights, supported by deep market knowledge and technical expertise. Our dedicated team of about 14,000 employees is passionate about helping you work to create healthier families, improve the quality of life and sustain the wellbeing of people worldwide. Phone: +90 312 217 24 17 E-mail:

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