As one of the world’s leading companies in measuring food and cereals, Perten Instruments can look back next year on a decade-long partnership with Optronic. As an Atex producer, high demands are placed on production and the parties have together developed a quality system that has been successful.
“We regard Optronic more as our extended arm and partner than a supplier in the crowd,” says Patrik Hedeklint, Head of Research and Development.
It was in 2008 that the thoughts were born at Perten’s to outsource production on contract. Its own production became more and more overloaded as the order books were filled and eventually the company was at a crossroads.
“We are very seasonal because we work in cereals with harvest times that control and then orders come quite unevenly. We felt that it was not the production that was our main business, it was instead to develop and sell instruments,” says Patrik.
The solution was to involve a factory in Estonia for more assembly-heavy tasks and Optronic for special assembly.
“We care about our high quality and therefore Optronic felt quite right with its expertise in the optomechanical area of expertise and special assembly,” says Patrik.
Initially, there were two products that Perten went into production with.
“Since then we have been on a journey together where we have developed further generations of those products and another model. Optronic has been involved in industrializing and made it possible to manufacture in even higher volume,” he explains.
Over time, cooperation has become something of a partnership with frequent discussions on how to proceed to find the best solutions.
“We are sensitive to their suggestions and how they view improvements. Optronic is careful that we keep a certain level of our dossiers and demands, among other things, unambiguity. That’s how we avoid misunderstandings,” he says.
This has led, among other things, to Perten daring to ship the products directly to its customers without time-consuming arrival checks.
“We save costs and can concentrate on our main task because field service personnel can be out in the field and generate income instead.
Some of Perten’s products must meet the current Atex requirements because the equipment is exposed in potentially explosive environments, such as the advanced DA 7300 analysis instrument used in flour mills. The DA 7300 reads the flour in real time, which enables the grading and sorting of the flour and that the producer can charge correctly for each product.
“A miss in our production can lead to a spark and in a floury atmosphere you run the risk of the flour mill exploding in no time, which threatens the entire factory,” Patrik says to put the whole thing in context.
Since 2012, Optronic is an Atex-rated manufacturer for Perten, which involves rigorous rules and guidelines at all stages. The very purpose of calling itself an Atex producer is that Optronic can produce each product with an Atex stamp 100 percent the same as the original master tested in Borås at the Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
“Before we got the certification, we had to type-check each instrument which was both expensive and time-consuming. Since we didn’t have the procedures in place, we developed a process model with Optronic that was so good that we just needed to be revised on the processes and it has been a big deal for us,” says Patrik contentedly.
Once every 18 months, the Swedish Institute of Technology goes through the process. Optronic’s responsibilities are far-reaching – they must also ensure that their suppliers do not make any changes without approval. Each material must be identical to the one that is specified, it applies to everything from screws to o-rings, glue, packing material.
“There are also extra clear instructions on how our Atex articles should be tested and density checks on, for example, how the adhesive has cured properly. We have detailed instructions and a very thorough auditing process on the assembly instructions before delivery. For example, a new employee at Optronic should know exactly how to do it,” he explains.
Each product is also traceable in the event of an incident.
Perten uses advanced near infrared spectroscopy technology (NIR) in its sensors. It allows for a wide range of sensitive instruments used around the world for measuring and analysing food.
“If we look at the macro trends in the world, that there is an increasing number of mouths to feed, then there is no stop in the streamlining of the food and cereals industry either. There, our instruments help to provide answers and data to companies that are researching in this area,” says Patrik.
For example, the DA 7250 is a table-top model that reads a product in six seconds and from it gives a result on the composition with different parameters. Weighing a bowl of wheat provides exact values of the amount of protein, fibre and various minerals. But it is also possible to apply to nicotine levels in tobacco, starch in flours, oil content in rapeseed and milk products, to name a few examples.
“This is exciting because we can basically measure all organic matter that has a signature in the wavelength range NIR. There are new products you want to measure – including yogurt, cottage cheese and juices or new types of crops and caffeine in coffee beans. Even poppy seeds in Turkey that are used to produce morphine in medicines,” Patrik explains.