Just about all children and adults love peanut butter, which is practically an American diet mainstay. Consumers expect a quality product that is uniform from batch to batch, but one peanut butter manufacturer had a problem with its product’s uniform consistency. The company knew the problem was in its large mixing vessels and turned for help to Burns Engineering Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., a maker of high performance temperature measurement products.
Temperature is a critical component in the peanut butter production process. The manufacturer used tank heaters to control the temperature of the mix in the vessels, which used thermowells welded to the bottom side of the tanks for inserting temperature sensors into the mix. Burns determined that this method of temperature measurement takes place at the bottom of the tank, which is not representative of the entire batch being mixed. Burns also noted a significant time lag between when the tank heaters turned on and when the heat effect reached the sensors. Sensors could not be placed in the mixing portion of the tank because they would interfere with the mixing blades.