A Look Back in Electron Machine History - "A Brixometer for Fresh Juice Testing"

technical staff of Electron Machine Corp
Left to right: J.L. Moody, engineer; Ray E. Blackaby,
business manager; Edwin R. Moller, vice-president;
Francis Reed, president; Donald Stephens, technician;
Charlie Dixon, technician.
Electron Machine Corporation is very proud of our unique history and deep roots in the electronic instrumentation industry, and developed the first in-line process refractometer was developed to fulfill a need within the developing concentrated citrus industry.

Below we have posted a paper from 1961 presented to the ASME titled "A Brixometer for Fresh Juice Testing" authored by Electron Machine's former VP, Francis Reed.

On the right there is also a picture of the technical staff of Electron Machine Corp. at the time (1958) posing around the new "Brixometer". The author of the following paper is pictured fourth from the left.

We thought it would be interesting to show this deep history to our customers and associates. Enjoy.

ASME 1961 Citrus Engineering Conference
CEC 1961
March 22, 1961
Lakeland, Florida, USA

Francis S, Reed
Vice President
Electron Machine Corporation
Umatilla, Florida

Industry everywhere is undergoing a complete revolution which is not apparent to the average citizen. The artistic and craftsmanship abilities of the early industrial worker to create a perfect piece of goods has been supplanted by the emphasis on mass production, lower costs and machine precision of the more recent years. As a result of this development a tremendous pressure is being exerted upon industry to produce even more for even less costs which has created a situation where the machines are now capable of exceeding the abilities of the men who operate them.

From this dilemma has come a now concept of using the speed and precision of electronic devices to replace the human judgement end control ever these processes. This situation arose in the citrus industry several years ago when the increasing capacities of each plant made it increasingly difficult to perform the blending of the concentrate manually with the same equipment and manpower as in earlier methods.

The result has been the development of a method for continuously measuring the Brix of the juice and automatically blending the product uniformly on a continuous basis.

The creation of such a measuring device which has inherently more accuracy then the usual testing devices used in processing has lead naturally to the thinking of applying this principle to the laboratory tests. Such a method would speed up the operation and produce readings of a higher degree of accuracy than tho present methods.

Also, there is the elimination of possible human errors in reading transposing, and compiling the data onto the inspection sheets. It has boon pretty well proven that even with tho best of laboratory equipment available and adequate time to make up the proper tests that no two human beings will interpolate the Brix readings identically.
Couple this human frailty with tho inherent error in tho equipment, possible variables in the test procedure and you can have variations in readings which moans hundreds of thousands of dollars to tho citrus industry.

Let us assume that an average citrus plant is using a calibrated device to measure Brix which according to present standards has an allowable tolerance of C.I degree Brix from the standard. Let us further assume that this Instrument Is checked against a standardized instrument which is allowed a tolerance of .05 degrees from the absolute Brix, we could then expect a possible error of .15 degrees Brix in tho laboratory test. Therefore, if the readings were off by this amount an average plant could lose $35,000 to $50,000 a season depending upon the price being paid for the pounds of solids at the time. If you were to assess those figures accurately for each plant you would find in some instances a considerable larger figure involved in this possible source of error. This loss can further aggravated by tho addition of other possible sources of error introduced by improper deaeration of tho juice before testing, the manner in which tho operator handles the test equipment, environmental conditions in the test area, and tho difficulty of interpolating tho readings and transposing thorn onto the records without any errors. When you add all those to the possible losses you can envision a tremendous loss.

At This point the question arises "whose loss?". If the errors add up to the processors favor, the grower loses. The reverse situation can also happen with such a wide latitude in the test operation.

Hence, all concerned in tho testing of Brix are virtually interested in a reliable instrument which would make this Brix determination accurately and present the information in digital form on the inspection sheet without having to be interpolated.

Such an instrument has been developed and is being designed to fulfill the operating conditions of the test stations and laboratories. This instrument will employ the principles of the present electronic Brixometer used in the processing operation and will allow for tho rapid and precise determination of the Brix without the attendant errors possible in the manual system. This device will accept a sample of the juice from the inspection sample and without requiring deaeration immediately present the Brix indication to the operator. The operator will zero the instrument, insert tho data sheet into a printer slot and receive the printed out Brix indication similar to the weight information printed by the scales.

The next logical step from the automatic printing of weight and Brix is to be the incorporation of an automatic determination of the acid content of the juice and from this information it wiI I be a simple matter to devise an electronic computer system which will arrive at the ratio, pounds of solids and yield figures.

The combination of these instruments into a complete inspection tool would provide an accurate, indisputable record of all testing done without the costly introduction of the multiple errors possible in the manual testing methods.

The method of electronically collecting all of tho data will lead to another field of interest to the processors in that of data compilation. This intelligence can be fed fo the modern computers to analyze many of tho conditions surrounding the procurement and utilization of tho fruit. Such systems are now in use in many of the large industries in the country and more smaller industries are finding out the advantages of data compilations and statistical analysis of their product end its utilization. In fact, we predict that within a very few years there will be thru the utilization of the tremendous advantages in electronic instrumentation, completely automatic processing available to all types of industry.

You can download a copy of the original paper from this ASME archive.