Bread and butter: load cells in the food industry

Published On: December 20 2019


If, like us, you’ve been glued to the TV series “Inside the Factory”, you’ll know just how much food production is mechanised and automated, from mixing ingredients to final packaging.

A new bread production line launched in the USA uses load cells under a conveyor belt to measure precise weights of dough. It allows bakers to divide up large quantities of dough within a single line. The dough line is headed up by a feeder that “Adjusts the dough sheet width depending on the products being made, thereby reducing the amount of trim and increasing quality. The line can either divide the dough pieces by dimension or accurately cut by weight.”

One of our favourite food manufacturing stories this year had to be how the world’s oldest cheddar makers, Barber’s, turned cheesemaking by-products into energy and vodka! During cheesemaking, around 85% of the milk used ends up as whey. Every drop is used in some way (sorry, no pun intended!)

  • Residual butterfat from the whey, and use it to make farmhouse butter.
  • Whey protein is extracted and exported to create infant formulas
  • Lactose is separated and made into a concentrated serum that can be fermented and distilled into vodka.

“To make the vodka, a first of its kind, the whey is fermented into a ‘beer’ using a special yeast that converts the milk sugar into alcohol. This ‘milk beer’ is distilled and treated, the vodka is then triple filtered and finished, before being hand-bottled.”

  • Lactose can also be used in anaerobic digestion plants for energy creation
  • The resulting water is used to wash down the factory
  • It is then purified before being returned to the water system

Load cells may play a humble part in the process to measure weights, but it all adds up to a very sustainable solution.


More Christmas load cells stories

Here are just three of our tasty load cells Christmas stories:

Mind the gap

One of the nation’s favourite Christmas foods, mince pies, have a tricky problem that can’t be solved with more filling – the air gap. Discover how load cells helped a major mince pie manufacturer solve this festive issue.

Freight, fruitcake and festive drinks

We uncovered some fascinating stats for the season where load cells were involved in making Christmas extra special.

Let it snow

How load cells help scientists understand more about snow, from examining snowflakes under a microscope to predicting the volumes of snow melt water.


Our Christmas opening hours

Our manufacturing site will be closed for the holidays from Monday 23 December 2019 – Thursday 2 January 2020. Orders can still be placed through the shop during this period, however, they will not be processed until we re-open in the new year. Orders will be processed in the order they are received.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!