Tip of the Week: A Look Into Our Labs

For the months of January and March 2017, Tip of the Week has featured photos of the new lab remodel, tips on lab experiences, and insights into the types of projects that occur in the eight AIB labs. These labs serve hundreds of people every year from our Baking Science and Technology resident course to more than 25 R&D projects.

To end the lab series, Valerie Olson, Director of Food Technical Services, explains the common thread that ties all these labs together --- our experts on staff.

Our experts each have extensive knowledge in their field, along with industry experience and application knowledge. I see our staff as a great collective resource, collaborating to give our clients comprehensive guidance.
— Valerie Olson, Director of Food Technical Services, AIB International

Generally, the consulting process starts with either a call or an email through the AIB International website with a question or request. Olson said the following steps immediately occur:

  • We assign the subject matter expert that is most appropriate and schedule a conference call to discuss the request in more detail.
  • Often the AIB staff will ask additional questions to help clarify the scope of the request and what service will best meet the clients’ needs. 
  • AIB has experts that specialize in specific products/processes and/or specific service areas and sometimes we will have multiple experts talk with clients to determine what services are most appropriate. 

“Our niche is our ability to pull multiple experts with deep subject matter knowledge together to brainstorm and consider several possible solutions and then provide guidance to either test the solutions, assess critical situations in a plant, or provide appropriate testing to answer technical questions completely.” Olson said. “We are a one-stop-shop for technical inquiries.”

Below is a breakdown of AIB’s Key Lab Services:

·         Ingredient Substitutions

Changing out an ingredient seems simple, right? Not so fast. 

Even substituting the same ingredient from a different supplier can cause issues when making a food product. The challenge becomes even greater when trying to substitute a different ingredient in a formula and can lead to lots of headaches, processing concerns, and label changes (for example: switching a solid fat to an oil). 

AIB International can help by reviewing formulations, testing new formulas to see if they will function in the same way your equipment requires and provide guidance on the most appropriate ingredients substitutions if you’re working to meet new nutritional content requirements.

·         Process Optimization

Formulations/recipes are a critical piece of making a finished product, but so are your processing parameters. You can have a great formula and not be able to make quality finished product if you don’t understand and spend time optimizing your process. Small changes make big differences here, both in finished product quality and in profitability. 

Understanding how a piece of equipment is supposed to operate and then fine tuning how your product runs in that equipment requires experience and training, which we provide when consulting and training our clients and students.

·         New Line Start-Ups

Brand new equipment in a plant looks impressive. Shiny, new and expensive. Getting that equipment to produce the product you and your consumers are looking for takes a lot of effort.

We can assist by coming on-site to assess your production line, review the formulas you plan to use, look at equipment and settings to determine possible areas of concern and advise processing issues you encounter when starting up a new processing line, or start producing a new product on an existing line. 

·         Formula Optimization

A formula is a valuable commodity to anyone in the food industry. It is our go-to. 

AIB International provides confidential assistance to review formulas and assess functionality of ingredients and provide guidance for improvements. 

  • Sometimes it may be adjusting proportions of the ingredients you already have.
  • Sometimes it means removing an ingredient to reduce the cost of the formula or due to a shortage of an ingredient. 
  • Other times it may be that you want to remove an ingredient to change the nutritional content of your product to appeal to new consumers. 

In all of these scenarios, AIB’s R&D group can help. From a straightforward formulation review, to bench scale or pilot scale testing of a formulation, we have experts who can help you understand what is critical in your formula, what is nice to have, and what is not really gaining you much to help you save costs.