The Falling Number® System measures the alpha-amylase enzyme activity in grains and flour to detect sprout damage, optimise flour enzyme activity and guarantee soundness of traded grain. Alpha-amylase activity is crucial for final product quality of bread, pasta, noodles and malt. Anyone handling wheat, barley, rye or sorghum intended for these applications will benefit from the Falling Number® system.
The method is standardized by international bodies such as
the ICC, AACCI, ISO and ASBC in the standards:
ICC/No. 107/1 (1968)
AACCI/No. 56-81.03 (1972)
ISO/No. ISO/DIS 3093 (1974)
ASBC Barley 12-A
Falling Number® applications
Why measure the alpha-amylase activity? Rainy, adverse weather conditions during harvest can cause sprouting. When sprouting occurs the alpha-amylase enzyme develops. Alpha-amylase activity has direct impact on bread and pasta quality and adversely affects the malting process. As little as 5 % sprouted grain, mixed with 95 % sound grain, can render the entire mixture unacceptable.
The end users of wheat, rye and barley suffer when the grain is sprout damaged, and need to monitor the ingredients they buy. To prevent sprout damaged grain from entering the production chain, farmers and grain receivals should test the grain during harvest, and when it’s delivered.
Follow the links in the menu to the right, and read more about the benefits of Falling Number® testing in grain trade, flour milling and more.
Models and Accessories
Perten Instruments offers a range of Falling Number® models, to suit the various needs of our customers. We also offer accessories that can help you facilitate analyses and save costs.
Follow the links in the menu to the right to find a Falling Number® model and accessories which suit your needs. In common for all models is that they follow all international standards – only Falling Number® equipment from Perten Instruments do. All of them are also produced with all the experience and knowledge of the company that introduced the Falling Number® method to the global grain industry.
The new FN 1000
The World Standard is Faster, Safer and Easier to use than ever before.
The FN 1000 is the newest and most modern Falling Number®instrument model and offers many new benefits and improved features. It’s a dual analysis system suitable for everyone who requires reliable analysis and high capacity.
Correct FN results
World Standard – The Perten Falling Number® models are the only validated instruments for Falling Number testing according to international standards: AACCI/No. 56-81.03, ICC/No. 107/1, ISO/DIS 3093.
Automatic water level control – The FN 1000 automatically controls the level in the water bath, improving consistency of results.
Fungal Falling Number® – The FN 1000 is equipped to test flours with addition of fungal alpha-amylase.
Altitude correction – Above 600 m altitude the Falling Number® results need to be adjusted for the lower atmospheric pressure. The FN 1000 includes a sensor which alerts the operator to activate automatic correction when required.
Optimized analysis time – The FN 1000 can be set to a target FN value representing non-sprouted grain, and will automatically stop the test once that value is reached. It then pushes down the stirrers, and reports the result as greater than the input target value – i.e. “275+” or “300+”.
Auto-start – When test tubes are placed in the water bath the FN 1000 starts the test automatically while awaiting confirmation from the operator.
Insulated water bath –The FN 1000 is designed with an insulated water bath and a plastic outer part on the cooling lid, making it safe to touch and protecting operators.
Reduced steam – The water bath briefly turns off at the end of tests allowing operators to remove the tubes and cassette under reduced steam.
Easier to use
Automated water addition – No need for operators to monitor water level and add water as this is done automatically by the FN 1000.
Touch screen operation – The intuitive user interface of the large color touch screen makes it easy to operate the FN 1000 and use its advance features such as blend calculation, malt addition, moisture correction and more.
Connectivity – The FN 1000 is equipped with 4 USB ports and one Ethernet port, enabling simultaneous use of printers, data capture connection, bar code readers and more.
The FN 1500 is the perfect Falling Number® system for a smaller flour mill.
It is an automatic single analysis system, equipped with a control unit with a printer, a keypad and a small display which can be set to a local language.
Fungal Falling Number
The FN 1500 can be ordered with the option to test flours with addition of fungal alpha-amylase.
The built-in printer gives a receipt of the analysis results.
Sample ID registration
To include sample ID on the printout and in the data sent to any connected computer, you can enter a number through the keypad or by connecting a barcode reader.
The FN 1500 is equipped with an RS-232 connection which allows it to automatically send Falling Number® results to a connected computer after the analysis. This makes it possible to capture results in a LIMS system.
The Falling Number® of a mix of two batches of grain or flour is not the same as the average of the two individual Falling Number® values. To get the correct value use the calculation feature of the FN 1500 to get the right result.
If you use the Falling Number® method above 600 meter above sea level the result needs to be corrected for the lower boiling temperature of water at this altitude. The FN 1500 can be set to automatically adjust the Falling Number® result if you activate this feature.
The FN 1310 is our basic model which allows users to buy an original Perten system at a value price.
The Falling Number® 1310 System is an automatic single analysis system designed for fast and convenient operation of the Falling Number® test. The high quality standards to which the FN 1310 is built offer high return on your investment through many years of trouble-free operation.
Its simple, robust design gives the FN 1310 exceptional instrument life.
Easy to use
The FN 1310 is very easy to use, and is confidently used by all operators.
International standards and recommendations such as AACC International Method 56-81.03, ICC Standard No. 107/1, ISO 3093.
Falling Number® accessories
Our accessories helps you achieve consistent results and make your use of Falling Number® instruments more efficient.
Remove operator influence on results and reduce total analysis time by using the Shakematic automatic sample mixer.
Reduces water consumption to practically zero and makes it possible to place FN units almost everywhere.
Clean Falling Number® Viscometer Tubes rapidly and safely. The fast cleaning saves time and liberates operators for more important work.
Time stamps and documents Falling Number® results for storage or transfers to a log book.For use with FN 1000 and FN 1700.
Easily and accurately dispenses 25 ml water for the Falling Number® test. Can also be set to 30 ml for the Fungal Falling Number® test.
To analyze grain for Falling Number® according to the standard methods it needs to be ground using the correct lab mills. The Perten LM 120 and LM 3100 hammer mills are both approved for the Falling Number® method.
Factors affecting FN® results
A number of factors can affect Falling Number® results. The list below is not a complete list, but mentions the most important ones that operators can influence.
A representative sample must be obtained in order to assure accuracy. Through experimentation and statistical confirmation, the sample size has been to be determined to be 300 g. This is extremely important since the alpha-amylase activity of one sprouted kernel may be 100 times greater than that of an unsprouted kernel.
It’s critical to obtain a standardized particle size for grain samples. In other words the samples must be ground the same. The FN method is based on the rapid gelatinization of starch. This process is greatly influenced by the particle size of the meal and it’s critical the correct grinder is used – LM 120 and LM 3100 are approved.
The moisture content of a sample will dictate how much sample is to be used for the test. The sample weight is corrected to the appropriate moisture level. The AACC and ICC correct to 14% while the ISO currently corrects to 15%. The moisture must be measured after grinding since moisture loss can occur during the grinding process. A table is available to calculate the correct sample amount depending on moisture content.
Approved, clean and dry tubes and stirrers
The Falling Number® viscometer tube has very specific dimensions with tight limits, and if these dimensions are not following the specifications, this may lead to faulty results and even breakage when used in the test. Also the stirrer must have correct dimensions and weight and be free from defect. The viscometer tubes, stirrers and stoppers must be clean and dry, for obvious reasons. Since soaps are surfactants and may react with the sample matrix, we strongly recommend cleaning with only water and no detergents.
Properly mixed sample
The sample must be mixed well, preferably using the Shakematic, and the bottom of the stopper should be wiped into the tube after mixing. As with all types of measurements, proper analytical lab techniques must be observed.
The Falling Number® Method
The Falling Number® method is standardized and should always be performed in the same way. The steps are described below, and are also illustrated in the picture.
To learn more about the theory behind the Falling Number® test
To download a checklist on how to achieve correct Falling Number® results
1. Sample Preparation
For grain a 300 gram sample is ground in a Laboratory Mill LM 3100 or LM 120 equipped with a 0.8 mm sieve. The large sample is to avoid sampling error. For flour a representative sample is taken.
7.0 ± 0.05 g of whole meal or flour is weighed and put into a Viscometer tube. The flour amount should be moisture corrected by measuring the actual moisture content of the sample.
25 ± 0.2 ml of distilled water is added to the tube.
Sample and water are mixed by vigorously shaking the tube to obtain a homogeneous suspension.
The Viscometer tube with the stirrer inserted is put into the boiling water bath and the instrument is started. After 5 seconds the stirring begins automatically.
The stirrer is automatically released in its top position after 60 (5 + 55) seconds and is allowed to fall down under its own weight.
7. The Falling Number®
The total time in seconds from the start of the instrument until the stirrer has fallen a measured distance is registered by the instrument. This is the Falling Number®.