September/October 2020

Spin dryer, prep washing and smart machines highlight latest from Kronen
By Melanie Epp, Contributing Writer

Hygienic design, improved sanitation and enhanced efficiency are three of the biggest demands placed on food processing equipment manufacturers today. End users want to increase throughput while improving efficiency and food safety, all with fewer employees. Kronen aims to deliver on that.

Longtime Kronen Managing Director Stephan Zillgith took Produce Processing contributing writer Melanie Epp on a tour of the company’s latest technology at Fruit Logistica earlier this year in Berlin.

KS-7 ECO salad and vegetable spin dryer

Aimed at smaller-scale processors, the KS-7 ECO vegetable and salad spin dryer offers improved access and enhanced hygienic design over its big sister, the KS-100 PLUS. The KS-7 ECO is designed with ease of cleaning and superior hygiene in mind, said Zillgith.

Kronen’s KS-7 ECO vegetable and salad spin dryer. Photo: Melanie Epp

“From a hygienic point of view, it has more sloped surfaces so all the water can drain better,” he said. “The drain pipe was made bigger to let the water flow better.”

To prevent dirt deposits and simplify cleaning, the dryer has bevel surfaces on the casing, avoids right-angled tilts and uses fewer screws. Feet with rubber buffers ensure that the machine stands securely during the entire spin cycle. The dryer has seven speed settings; spin durations settings are unlimited.

Zillgith said the advanced spin dryers also received a revamp. Many of the advantages added to the advanced model were also included in the simpler model. The lid in the smaller model, however, is lighter and easier to lift, said Zillgith. The basket is also more secure and provides better traction.

Investment and maintenance costs are lower with the lighter model, making it ideal for smaller to medium-sized processors with limited space who process vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Deconwa Prep washing machine

When used in salads and other fresh-cut dishes, apples are often left unpeeled when cut or cubed. Removing microorganisms from the surface of the skin before cutting is essential.

The Deconwa prep washing machine. Photo: Melanie Epp

In a recent project, Kronen aimed to design equipment that could clean and sanitize apples for fresh-cut salads. The goal was to reduce spoilage and strengthen food safety standards. The result is Deconwa, a washing machine designed to gently disinfect whole products like apples without using additives or chemicals.

The prep washing machine uses temperature to reduce bacterial load. Zillgith said it can be easily integrated into existing lines and can be used in cold rooms.

Deconwa is suitable for other fruits and vegetables as well, including peppers, cabbage, whole lettuce, potatoes and avocados. Product is processed in batches. It is kept in the wash tank for one to three minutes, and then discharged on a belt once the wash cycle is complete, Zillgith explained. 

Deconwa can be designed to meet customer specifications.

Smart Machines: Industry 4.0 for the fresh-cut sector

Kronen has entered a new phase in processing equipment technology with its new series of web-enabled machines. Smart Machines transfer machine status to the Kronen cloud in real time, giving production managers and technicians the ability to monitor the machine’s status from any location at any time. 

Photo: Melanie Epp

The collected data improves overall efficiency in terms of productivity, flexibility, quality and safety by implementing predictive maintenance that helps prevent downtime due to breakdowns.

When the machines are connected, the different parts of the line are responsive, meaning if one part speeds up, the next part automatically speeds up as well, explained Zillgith. Before smart connectivity, the speed of each machine had to be manually changed. Likewise, one machine stops for some reason, the others will too.

“I’ve seen it very often,” said Zillgith. “The machine was running, running, running without any product. That’s a waste of energy. We’re also thinking about having sensors that look to see if there’s product on the belt. If there is no more product the machine can stop.”

Smart Machines also can detect mistakes, like having the wrong knife in the machine for a certain product.

They also collect data, which can be used to improve production lines. Looking at the programs, for instance, users can see which program was running and how much product went through. Using that data they can compile production reports. It tracks everything from throughput to losses, said Zillgith.

The first Smart Machine was even able to detect how often the door was opened, he continued. It’s a small thing, he said, but it told the managers that the machine was being stopped and started by opening and closing the cover.

“It’s not the right way because that’s an emergency stop,” said Zillgith. “It’s not good for the machine or the wearing parts. When you can detect things like that that really helps the managers to train the people who are working on the machine.”

Currently four Kronen machines are available as a SMART basic module: A belt cutting machine, GS 10-2; a vegetable spiral cutting machine, Spirello 150; a pineapple and melon peeling machine, AMS 220; and the Deconwa washing system.

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