Roel Molenaers, market manager (potatoes), Tomra Sorting Solutions told FoodProductionDaily.com automation allows production lines to collect, analyze, and react on data.
“We see this is really where the future will be, to gather all the information and manage it," he said.
“In the past you would do a manual check and see you are out of grade or specification and react to that. That takes half-an-hour, one hour.
"Today you get this information in real time. You have these machines looking at all the different stages and the system adjusts itself.”
“I see more automated control, without human interaction. For example, we have a customer, Pizzoli, with a speed peeler and peel scanner.
"That system continuously looks at how the line is peeling. It is analyzing images and making a decision itself, to increase the peel time or decrease – without human interaction.”
Other benefits of automation include time, labour and cost savings. Molenaers said that consistent quality is also becoming more important to food manufacturers.
“End users are getting more and more sensitive to the quality of food they are buying. So food quality is a big issue.
“We try to deliver something that gives you consistent quality coming out of the production line. It will give you the same output from the moment you switch it on, to the moment you switch it off.
"You don’t have Monday morning or Friday afternoon feelings on the production line.”
Case study: Pizzoli potato peeler
The Tomra’s Odenberg Peel Scanner 2 has been in operation on Italian potato processor Pizzoli’s peeling line for one year.
The process line previously used a steam peeler with a manual check of quality. The peel scanner now analyzes the quality of the peeled potatoes and automatically controls the steam times of the steam peeler.
Alberto Manaresi, technical director, Pizzoli, said “The peel scanner allows us to increase yield in the production line. Now due to consistent peeling quality, all the other equipment in the lines are easier to control.
"We also have the remote access to the production data in real time, which allows us to organize production, but we can also review the historic production data.”
“The Oldenberg Peel Scanner 2 has enabled us to reduce our steam peeling times, on average by about 30%, and increase the peeling quality. We now achieve steam times that we could never reach before.”