July 5, 2016

Fruit Logistica showcases equipment for potato processing

Fruit Logistica, the fresh and processed produce trade fair held annually in Berlin, showcased a wide variety of equipment for the potato processing industry, including the latest in cutting and peeling and scrubbing equipment to washing and optical sorting technology.

Washing lines

While Tummers provides solutions for flake, peeling and hydrocutting lines, they also provide solutions for washing potatoes. Sales manager Jos Mous said that potato processors are increasingly moving their washing equipment to the beginning of the line in the storage area. Doing so allows them to prepare more potatoes for further processing in advance. Tummers has addressed this request by creating a stand-alone washing area for its interested customers.

Peeling and scrubbing technology

Processers have been requesting equipment that’s designed with easier cleaning and increased hygiene in mind. They also want peelers and scrubbers that use less water, waste less product, and do a better job of providing more even scrubbing. The latest in peeling and scrubbing technology addresses these requests and more.RayTec

Wyma Solutions, for one, offers the new and improved Vege-Polisher. While the older model was more difficult to clean, the new model offers improved access for maintenance and cleaning, said Stuart Allen-Oldman, territory manager for the Americas. Furthermore, no tools are required to access the drum and brushes. The new model also features an isolated wash zone where more water and debris are contained, which further improves hygiene and maintenance.

According to Russ Schlager, vice president of sales at Hughes Equipment, potato processors have also been requesting technology that offers more even scrubbing. The company has responded with its waterless peeler and scrubber that, according to Schlager, not only improves yield, but also reduces water costs. The unit has the ability to peel potatoes, as well as scrub steamed potatoes.

Addressing concerns over water shortages – and increased interest in uniquely shaped potatoes – Formit designed peeling and scrubbing technology that doesn’t use water. Formit profilers (shapers), as described by Robert Henderson of Mosur Machine, produce a 17 mm to 57 mm “ball-shaped” product from an irregular shaped raw material. Formit shapers can be operated without the use of water, which is only required for cleaning and washing purposes. Waste, said Henderson, has been used to feed cattle and pigs.

Sormac, based in the Netherlands, also offers peeling technology for the processed potato industry. According to office manager Kim Suntjens-Beeks, its drum knife peeler has been redesigned with easy cleaning and increased hygiene in mind. The new machine, said Suntjens-Beeks, almost completely eliminates black spots while reducing waste. The continuous knife peeler offers higher yields than flat bed peelers. Durability and product shelf life were also considerations of the redesign; the new knife is good for up to 2,000 operating hours.

Sorting and conveying technology

In recent years, sorting technology has seen all sorts of improvement. While some companies have focused on perfecting foreign object detection through the use of 360˚ optical imaging, others have worked to reduce product damage by improving handling.

According to Jason Fuller, creative and digital marketing executive at Herbert Engineering, potato processors are looking for optical sorting equipment that offers high throughput without too much yield loss. Their new optical sorter, Oculus for peeled potatoes, uses roller tables for 360˚ vision, enabling complete inspection of the tuber. It also uses infrared cameras for identification of greens, and digital color cameras that offer a resolution of up to 0.25mm sq.

Fuller said that the new technology allows growers, packers and processors to sort far more accurately with better quality throughput and increased detection of reject produce. Oculus is available in two models, the 1300 and 2000.

While Key Technology is well known for its high-end sorting technology, it also designs conveying systems. Addressing processors’ request for increased sanitation and hygiene, the company uses vibration technology for feeding and collecting product, to remove water and to transfer and align product. According to Product Manager Marco Azzaretti, their conveyors are designed with the nature of the potato in mind, including how it slides, rolls and flies. Key Technology, he said, incorporates the perfect combination of chutes, lanes, gates, geometry, speed and stroke in order to feed, collect, grade and distribute potatoes.

Addressing the issue of 360˚ imaging, Concept Engineers out of The Netherlands has designed optical sorting technology that uses a free fall principle that allows for complete vision using LED and infrared lighting. According to area sales manager Peter Eijsbouts, TriPlus takes three-way sorting to the next level. Designed specifically for sorting large volumes of product, it can process up to 55 tons per hour. Using the principle of free fall enables the machine to view all sides of the product, he said. While one would think that free fall technology could potentially damage product, Eijsbouts said that damage is not an issue since product is caught on a slide. Furthermore, he said that the technology improves sorting quality and is even being used to resort product in the reject pile. Up to 95 percent of good rejects are returned, he said, thereby minimizing unnecessary waste.

While Raytec Vision is new in the optical sorting market, the Italian company’s export sales manager Gianluca Simonelli said it is enthusiastic about what it has to offer the potato industry. Its strength, he said, is not only the quality of the technology, but the price point, which he said is competitive. The camera and sensor-based optical sorter, Raynbow, uses an innovative pulsed light system, infrared and visible lighting, as well as hexa-chromatic imaging. Raynbow also offers an in-flight top and bottom view, which enables a 360˚ view of the product. The company has plans to improve its product line in the future by offering an information and statistics-gathering component.

Cutting technology

Addressing both the convenience and health food trends, Urschel designs and manufactures food cutting technology intended to be robust and long-lasting. For the potato industry, it has designed crinkle and flat potato slicers, as well as machines for cutting cubed and french fried potatoes.

All machinery and almost all parts are created in-house to meet customer specifications. Once a design is complete, the product is thoroughly tested before the customer even receives it. Christel Böhmer, director at Urschel in Germany, said the company does this because it wants to ensure that the product meets the client’s needs. Böhmer said that designing robust, long-lasting equipment is part of the business model. It also keeps old parts on-site for technology it no longer sells new.

Blanching and cooking

There are a number of emerging trends in the processed food industry, one of them being increased demand for healthy convenience food. While this trend is particularly evident in the fresh market where demand for healthy, fresh, ready-to- go fruit and vegetable options are on the rise, it is evident in other areas as well.

In potatoes, for example, there has been increased demand for pre-cooked product that can be quickly steamed, pan fried or roasted in 20 minutes. This is especially evident in Europe, said area sales manager Nick Maros of Kiremko, where dual income families are looking for quick meal options.

Kiremko is a Dutch engineering company that designs, manufactures and installs complete processing lines, factory upgrades and capacity expansions, as well as stand-alone equipment. The company offers solutions for products such as french fries, potato flakes, fresh/pre-cooked potatoes, potato chips and more.

— Melanie Epp, contributing writer

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