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Measuring equipment for the best quality tobacco

ELPRO LEPENIK, as part of the sales programme of our Swiss partner Rotronic, offers reliable and efficient solutions to optimise your tobacco processing, meet standard requirements and ensure quality.

In the manufacture of tobacco products, it is important to accurately control and monitor the environmental parameters of the entire tobacco processing process: from curing to ageing to fermentation, and the production and storage of the finished products.

Cigar production

Well-known brands such as Havana, Cuba, Cohiba and Montecristo are familiar even to the uninitiated. Before a cigar can be made, the tobacco must be prepared and made fit for consumption. After harvesting, the tobacco leaves are tied into bundles known as gavillas in the “casa de tabaco”. These are hung up to dry.

“TheRotronic HygroPalm is the perfect solution for on-site quality control. This stand-alone measuring system can be used freely and independently of the mains.”

Jose M. Guardiola Pedrosa
Tabacuba, Kuba

The drying process, which takes place in a kiln, serves to further ripen the tobacco leaves and reduce their sugar and water content. This type of drying takes up to 60 days. During this time, workers diligently ensure that the temperature and humidity of the drying process is regulated correctly.

The subsequent fermentation serves to develop the aroma and remove bitter and unpleasant substances from the leaves. In some cases, the storage and ripening processes can take several years. After the maturation process, the leaves are ready for processing in the cigar factory.

Equipment for measuring optimum conditions in tobacco processing

Monitoring the equilibrium relative humidity is a key prerequisite for ensuring the quality of cigars.

There are various methods for measuring and indicating humidity in tobacco processing. The most important thing is to monitor the equilibrium relative humidity of the cigars. Water activity sensors work very well here.

In this context, we offer Rotronic water activity sensors that work with HygroClip digital technology.

This digital technology ensures high performance, easy digital set-up and calibration.

Handheld instruments with inserted probes are used to measure tobacco leaf bales, while water activity units are typically used in a laboratory environment.

Finally, climatic data such as relative humidity and temperature are also recorded during transport and storage.

This is the only way to document that tobacco products have been brought in or stored in perfect conditions and without loss of quality. This can be a key factor in the acceptance of a shipment.

HygroPalm HP23-AW for portable use and tobacco quality

The HygroPalm portable water activity analyser offers the perfect solution for measuring water activity on site. Its connecting clip captures the tobacco bundle with its holding jaws. HygroClip HC2-S humidity sensor in the measuring chamber measures the equilibrium humidity of the tobacco. The equilibrium relative humidity and temperature values are digitally transferred to the connected handheld HygroPalm HP23-AW portable water activity analyser .

HP23-AW-A prenosni analizator aktivnosti vode ROTRONIC

  • področje uporabe: -10 … +60 °C/0 … 1 AW/0 … 100 % RV
  • skladnost: FDA 21 CFR, del 11/GAMP5
  • napajanje: 9 V baterija ali USB/napajalnik preko mini USB
  • 2 vhodna kanala za postaje HC2 ali tipala HC2
  • AW Quick funkcija za hitre rezultate meritev (običajno 4-5 minut)
  • zvočni alarm, ki kaže na opravljeno meritev
  • shrani do 10000 podatkovnih zapisov s % RV, °C, datumom in uro

To measure the equilibrium relative humidity in cigars, a special measuring chamber or “barrilito” sample holder has been developed. The cigars are placed in a “barrilito”, which is closed with a height-adjustable airtight lid – for reliable measurements.

Measured equilibrium relative humidity and calculated water content in one device

Using a large number of empirical measurements, the technical staff of the “Instituto del Tabaco” in Havana have found an algorithm that describes the correlation between equilibrium relative humidity and water content. This allows the HygroPalm analyser and HygroClip (HC2-S) sensors to be switched between equilibrium moisture measurement and water content calculation.

Cigarette production

One of the characteristics of tobacco is that it absorbs a lot of moisture in a high-temperature environment, but at lower temperatures it releases it as condensation. This leads to a large population of micro-organisms that cause discolouration, mould, insects and other phenomena that cause a major loss of quality and significant economic losses. Continuous monitoring of environmental parameters is therefore an extremely important factor in the process of producing quality cigars or cigarettes.

This can be avoided by monitoring humidity and temperature during the turning and aeration process. The latter prevents changes that could seriously degrade the quality of tobacco.

Sensors are also installed in tobacco shops to measure humidity and temperature, and transmit the values in real time to the control room. The monitoring team is thus kept informed of environmental factors at the point of sale and can intervene if necessary. The alarm is triggered as soon as the preset value is exceeded.

Equipment for measuring environmental parameters in cigarette production

HF5 measuring transducer is Rotronic’s latest development in universal transducers. The highly reliable and accurate relative humidity and temperature transmitter is equipped with freely selectable analogue outputs. With these features, it offers solutions for a wide range of applications, including the tobacco industry. It helps to assess the moisture content of tobacco, which affects its quality and suitability for the manufacture of tobacco products. Its digital outputs ensure full network compatibility.

HF5 HygroFlex5 merilni pretvornik ROTRONIC

  • servisni vmesnik
  • material ohišja: ABS
  • zamenljiva HC2 tipala (ni vključeno)
  • digitalni izhodi, kombinacije tudi z analognimi izhodi
  • področje uporabe elektronika: -40 … +60 °C/0 … 100 % RV; -10 … +60 °C z zaslonom

HygroClip humidity sensors HC2-S series thanks to the AirChip3000 technology, enable a unique and reliable calibration and adjustment process. In addition, they offer the highest level of repeatability and guaranteed system accuracy <0.8% RH and 0.1K.

HC2-SM-/ IM-/ IE-Ex in HC2-LDP-Ex tipala za vlažnost ROTRONIC

Merjenje vlažnosti

  • merilno območje: 0 … 100 % RV
  • točnost pri 23 °C: 0.8 % RV
Merjenje temperature
  • merilno območje: -40 … 60 °C ali -40 … 85 °C
  • točnost pri 23 °C: 0.1 K

The complete control system of Xuchang, the largest tobacco production facility in China, comprises more than 400 sets of HF5 transducers and HC2-S temperature and humidity sensors.

“Thanks to Rotronic, the quality team is constantly informed about the environmental situation and can intervene immediately if necessary.”

XiangYing Guo
Xuchang tovarna tobaka, Kitajska
Figure:Tobacco production in China (Xuchang) controlled and monitored by HF5

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They are always available for opinions and explanations:

Rotronic product expert Rok Samec

Measurement expert Zoran Lepenik

Related articles:

Mojca Kugler, source: Precise measurement equipment for best quality tobacco, Rotronic, October 2023

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