When Jonker Petfood in the Netherlands upgraded its NIR analysis equipment, 15 years of calibration data had to be transferred to the new system. For Dirk van Korven, Quality manager at Jonker Petfood, the equipment upgrade and data transfer was easy, quick – and safe.
By Richard Mills
Jonker Petfood manufactures and supplies customised dog and cat food to markets across Europe. NIR analysis plays a central role in the company’s quality process, so when the new equipment was installed, it was crucial that the thousands of calibrations could be transferred with minimal effort and without the need to re-sample.
“We have 15 years of samples in the system and we have a very good calibration line for our products and raw materials,” says Dirk van Korven. “If a truck comes and the material does not meet the specs, we can send them away without any doubts about the NIR.”
With this in mind, the company had grounds to be wary about moving to a new instrument platform, but according to Dirk van Korven the transfer of the calibrations from their trusty NIR instrument to a new NIR feed analyser was quite straightforward.
An onsite visit from a support engineer ensured the old samples were standardised in the new system. “For me, it was very easy,” says van Korven. “There was only some validation work to check that everything worked. It took about one day, and even for samples of ash, which are quite difficult, the result was ok.”
A calibration data collection of this size is a precious resource. Dirk van Korven explains, “Besides the cost, it takes years to get the good samples in a calibration,” he says. “From summer and winter and from harvest to harvest – you need it all. History is great for predicting the future.”
Online and intuitive
The new equipment contains networking software, so it’s possible for anyone at the plant to log in from anywhere to see the results and check what is going on. “If you have some issue with the results you can contact support and they can see online what is happening,” says Dirk van Korven. “You always have access to results – it’s like reading email from your mobile.”
On a normal day, the lab performs about 80 tests. With the new NIR instrument, the sample is simply poured into a cup and placed in the instrument. A unique light exposure system that avoids potential interference from stray beams then analyses the sample. And a special slurry cup makes measuring liquid samples easy. “Filling the cup is a big difference,” says Dirk van Korven. “With the old one it was complicated and messy. With the new, it is cleaner and easier to use.”
Ready for the future
Extremely stable, the equipment offers high signal strength and low noise across a broad measurement spectrum, making it a versatile platform for a broad range of analytical tests. “You don’t know what is coming in the future, but we have the opportunity to test amino acids, fatty acids, starch and such like,” says Dirk van Korven. “With the new equipment, we have more opportunities – as long as you have the right calibration behind it – dry, liquids, and unground samples – it’s no problem.”