French Farm Invests in Tomra Sorter to Sustain Growth
Following a 30% increase in processed volumes, the family run Flandre Pomme de Terre farm decided to increase their sorting capacity. Achieving this growth would require both an increase in the workforce dedicated to manual sorting, as well as installing a second processing line to double the number of manual sorting lines.
Because Flandre Pomme de Terre’s main activity is focused on very small calibers, which are delicate and tiring products to sort even for the most experienced operators, it was decided that the future would be in a different direction: equipping the existing line with a new optical sorting machine to manage the increase in output.
“This was the best way of ensuring a constant hourly sorting throughput while minimizing the organizational impact, to increase throughput during the season and achieve the desired growth, without the constraints resulting from recruiting and training seasonal workers, and without worrying about a drop in quality,” explains Olivier Vandaele, CEO Flandre Pomme de Terre.
Installed last November, the TOMRA Food Sentinel II has now been running at full capacity on the sorting line for three months processing all varieties. It has already completely changed the working processes. The sorting teams’ shifts have been shortened, relieving the hardship of the job and even making it possible to assign these staff to other tasks in the plant.
“With each batch that arrives for sorting, we just have to check the machine setting to take into account differences in the products’ color, for example. We also have to take into account the criteria set by our customers,” says Olivier Vandaele.
The Sentinel II is placed after the washer/polisher on the line. The machine is set for three outputs: waste, large and small sizes, and the good product. It has enabled the plant to manage the volumes easily.
The Sentinel II allows quality inspection of the washed tubers as they fall. Green, rotten, scab, and other major defects are easily isolated and directed to the waste. Downstream of the sorter, manual finishing is greatly simplified on the inspection table.
“The batches of products obtained with the TOMRA optical sorter have very homogeneous characteristics, which optimizes the subsequent stages of the process to meet specific customer specifications,” Vandaele pointed out.