Growers, processors and packers of fresh, fresh-cut, canned, frozen and dried vegetables face many challenges including: guaranteeing food safety, protecting brand reputations, complying with product specifications, minimizing food waste and maximizing yields while protecting profitability.
“These challenges are intensifying because the market is changing. Increasing demand for both fresh and frozen vegetables – a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic – puts processors under more pressure to handle greater volumes at higher throughputs,” said Pieter Minner Sales Manager at TOMRA Food.
“Demand for organic foods – expected to rise by 50% in the next five years – means that more vegetables grown without pesticides or herbicides are arriving at processors mixed up with toxic weeds, vermin, and insects.”
Technical developments and innovations by TOMRA Food, mean their optical sorting machines have highly effective sorting solutions for all types of vegetable products: IQF, fresh pack and fresh-cut, canned, dehydrated, and freeze-dried.
“Our sorters also deliver a multitude of other benefits. They grade to specification, increase removal efficiency, minimize false rejects, reduce or eliminate the need for manual intervention, help solve labour problems (scarcity, cost, effectiveness, knowledge and training), reduce line downtime, and – through the TOMRA Insight cloud-based data platform – provide valuable data about the product sorted. Through all of these capabilities, sorters improve sustainability by cutting food waste while enhancing yields and profits.”
Pre-sorting for foreign materials and critical defects
TOMRA offers four different optical sorters for vegetable pre-sorting: the Sentinel II, Halo, TOMRA 3A, and TOMRA 5A. The TOMRA 3A is used mostly for unwashed potatoes and unpeeled onions.
“The Sentinel II combines TOMRA’s pulsed LED/sensor arrays with a simple user interface to remove a broad range of foreign materials, rodents, defects, discoloration, damage, and undersize product. The Sentinel II’s technical specification enables it to outperform competitors in sorting efficiency and sorting capacity. With three different sizes giving a wide capacity range, it’s ideal for seasonal and year-round processors.
“Also popular for pre-sorting many types of whole vegetables is the Halo, a high-performance machine that sorts according to size, shape and quality. The Halo uses top and bottom sensor banks to view each individual object in flight using a combination of LED, CCD camera, and near-infrared. This performs targeted spectroscopy to 1mm precision. The Halo is suitable for carrots, beets, and onions, as well as fresh pack carrots, parsnips, cucumbers, and gherkins. Depending on the application, the Halo increases yield by up to 4%, increases throughput by up to 25%, and reduces labour requirements by up to 80%.
“Another machine often used for pre-sorting, and even more efficient than the Sentinel II and Halo at removing foreign material, is the TOMRA 5A. This belt machine employs top and bottom sensor banks to view each individual object in flight using a combination of pulsed LED, camera and near-infrared. As with the Halo, targeted spectroscopy is precise to 1mm – achieving a superior foreign object removal rate of more than 98%. These high efficiencies, combined with low false reject rates, are often a key requirement to protect the cutters in the processing line.”
Sorting next for foreign materials and quality
The Genius, a belt …….