Quality by Design in the Process Industries

New product development and product improvement of food & beverages does not need to be a trial and error approach. It is possible to engineer the function and performance of a biological product, including the subjective issue of consumer satisfaction, and build quality and performance into the design of the product and its production process.

In product design engineering we are particularly focused on affective product design. This is the scientific term to developing a product that fulfils/stimulates a particular emotional response (the vague "I like it", "I love it", or "makes me feel good"). We have worked closely with private companies in this domain, developing new methods of analysis of the emotional response to the experience of consumption of a food/beverage product, with particular emphasis on beverages and functional products. These are combined with engineering product design methods to define experimental designs for product prototypes, and then obtain quantitative results for defining optimum design choices. This work interfaces psychology, sensory science and engineering.

Quality by Design is a new paradigm of industrial production, geared to operate a process in such a way that the resulting product will always have quality, thus minimising costs of non-conformity and waste. We are particularly emphasising the need for an integrated process-package-distribution approach to quality by design. This therefore involves both aspects of process assessment and optimisation, and of packaging and shelf life.

While the work is very quantitative, it has attracted graduates of science disciplines, such as food science, biochemistry and nutrition, who have graduated with a PhD in engineering after 3 to 4 years of working in this area.

While concepts and tools can be applied to any product, we have worked to date mostly with fruit juices, soft drinks, teas, fresh, minimally and dried processed fruits and vegetables, cereal bars, and pre-cooked and dried rice.

 

Contact personnel:

Dr. Jorge Oliveira                  email: j.oliveira@ucc.ie

Dr Maria deSousa Gallagher    email: m.desousagallagher@ucc.ie

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