Try to guess what the hottest item currently is in the food industry. If you said Mexican food, Cajun seasonings, anything that is low-calorie, natural or contains oat bran or any product that can be cooked in the microwave, you would be wrong. The hottest item is, truthfully, nothing you can eat, the item is a group of gadgets and gizmos known as sensors.

Since higher levels of automation became popular in food processing, sensors have been thrust to the forefront of the arena. Sensors act as the “feelers” and the “eyes” on a processing line in measuring everything from temperature and flow rates to product and packaging defects. Sensors are essentially the first level of process control, collecting data and reporting existing conditions on the line back to the main control unit for interpretation.

Sensors have become so important in food processing because they are closing the process control loop. Processors need reliable measurements from the line and sensors provide this. Sensors provide consistent information and they eliminate the human error element on the processing line.

The food industry, though, by its inherent nature, demands a lot performance from its sensors. The units must be capable of extensive washdown, with temperatures often exceeding 100˚C. Because of this, sensors must be protected against moisture and other extreme conditions and are constructed to meet NEMA qualifications.

One of the main tasks of sensors is to perform presence sensing duties, simply the determination of the presence or absence of products or materials in a designated area. Sensors also take measurements of many line conditions such as flow, temperature, pressure, and pH. Generally, there are several types of sensors involved in these duties: photoelectric, proximity, ultrasonic and electromechanical.



Exercise 1. Discuss the necessity of this device in food production with your group mate and prove the idea that it’s really worth applying.


Use the phrases: I think, I guess, I consider, the fact is, we must pay attention to…, it’s important that…, etc.



Exercise 2. Fill in the table, and then compare it with your partner’s:


advantages disadvantages




Read the article from the magazine “Food Engineering”:


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