Food and Drink Manufacturing

The IRmadillo for Monitoring Food & Drink Manufacturing Processes

The IRmadillo is an in-line (and in-vat) process analyzer. It works by using a technique called FTIR (mid-infrared) spectroscopy to monitor the concentration of different chemicals with great accuracy and in real time. It can be calibrated to become a universal analyzer measuring almost any chemical and property in liquids. One thing that makes it different to other FTIR analyzers is that it is robust and built to last. The IRmadillo installs directly into your process to perform continuously. It is a powerful alternative to off-line sampling techniques that require lengthy waiting periods to receive your results. Why wait when you can have real-time analysis?

The Keit IRmadillo has been specifically designed to withstand a wide range of process conditions, can tolerate knocks and scrapes, and can survive caustic cleaning and sterilize-in-place processes with no damage to the probe. It’s ideally suited for monitoring the production process of many foods & drinks in the liquid & slurry phases and it supports manufacturers’ goals of Industry 4.0 – increased automation, integration and digitalization of their process information for better on-line monitoring and control.


The IRmadillo can easily monitor the following chemicals and properties:

Alcoholic Fermentation:

  • Monitoring sugars, alcohols and acids in ethanol fermentations (and more)
  • Monitoring yeast health (stress & nutrient levels)
  • Monitoring for contamination

Biomass/fungal fermentations (plant-based meat alternatives):

  • Monitoring key components of interest
  • Control nutrient level
  • Contaminant spotting

Dairy processing (milk, liquid/cream cheese, yogurt & kefir):

  • Monitoring fats, lactose, protein and urea levels in raw milk
  • Control of protein level in whey protein production
  • Contaminant spotting and process optimization

Cooking oils:

  • Oxidation and decomposition of cooking oils – know exactly when to change over oil for fresh feedstock and prevent waste caused by unnecessary replacement
  • Measure acrylamide build-up to optimize oil turnover

How do I use it?

The IRmadillo is a flexible process analyzer based on FTIR (mid-infrared) spectroscopy. This means you can use it for chemical concentration monitoring (quantitative analysis) or for condition & qualification monitoring (qualitative analysis). You can even run both at the same time – no need to choose.

Quantitative analysis – in this mode the IRmadillo will output the concentration for each different chemical present in your process that it’s been calibrated to detect. There is an enormous range of chemicals it can monitor and measure. There’s no maximum concentration, and the scales can be adjusted depending on the chemical of interest. So you can monitor sugars in % terms whilst keeping an eye on ppm level organic acids at the same time.

Qualitative analysis – in this mode the IRmadillo will give you readings such as “within specification”, “contamination spotted”, “fermentation stressed” or other readings. The calibration in this case is much more flexible, and is designed to show overall types of process conditions rather than fixed chemical concentrations. We can also build a qualitative calibration (after you’ve been using it for a while) to look back at “good batches” and “bad batches”, and give you an indication of where your batch is likely to go over time.

What about other instruments – Raman, near infrared (NIR), & refractive index monitors?

Raman spectroscopy is similar to the FTIR that drives the IRmadillo’s process monitoring, but it can be very strongly and negatively affected by particles and bubbles in the solution, as well as showing strong fluorescence in many cases.

Near infrared (NIR) technologies provides much less specific information than FTIR – they’re very good in some industries, but are often struggle in more challenging applications.

Refractive index monitors are cost effective instruments for simple systems, but they cannot cope with complicated mixtures such as those present in more challenging applications.

Raman, near infrared and refractive index monitors have been around for many years prior to the IRmadillo – put frankly, if they were the right tool wouldn’t you have one already?

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The IRmadillo for
Bioethanol and Biofuels

Not at all. Keit will work with you to either provide the instrument pre-calibrated as an analyzer or we’ll calibrate it for you based on HPLC results – this depends on your process and will be confirmed at kick-off. Once it’s calibrated the calibration is stable, and can be expanded to multiple instruments in the same installation.

The IRmadillo is designed to install directly into your process, and “fit it and forget” about it. It can be installed through an existing flange directly into the fermenters (either with or without a ball valve to isolate), and is equally suited for installation into recirculation pipework. The instrument can then communicate directly with your existing DCS or control system, becoming another part of the way you run your plant easily and simply.

Don’t confuse FTIR (mid-infrared) with FT-NIR (near infrared). Infrared (IR) light comes in a few different wavelength ranges, and there are many industries and processes using NIR instruments successfully. However, some processes are simply not suitable for NIR as they are too complex or their concentrations are too low to be monitored effectively by NIR.

Near infrared is very different to the mid-infrared light that the IRmadillo uses (FTIR). FT-NIR instruments don’t actually look directly at the chemical bonds, but at “overtones”. This is a bit like trying to recognize someone from their shadow rather than looking at their face. It gives you a rough idea who it is, but to get full understanding, you need the full picture. FT-NIR techniques also use a probe with a reflecting window in it that can easily get blocked with high solid loadings, which is common in many processes.

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Application Library

There’s more to find out. Feel free to download and read our application notes and
brochure by browsing our application library.

The IRmadillo for
Food & Drink Manufacturing

If you purchase the IRmadillo for food and drink manufacturing you will receive:

  • IRmadillo process analyzer
  • Interface and mounting accessories to integrate with your process (following a consultation with your engineering team)
  • IRmadillo controller
  • Calibration services
  • Ongoing technical and recalibration support (as per your warranty or maintenance contract)

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