Introduced to offer potato and vegetable growers and processors automated optical sorting of dirty crops, Tong has been offering the option within its Caretaker mobile grader and static grading lines as an alternative to traditional manual inspection facilities. The optical sorter for dirty crops can also be specified as a stand-alone unit or within a complete intake grading line, to replace manual removal of stones and clod from crops.
And now, after almost two years in daily action sorting up to 40 tons of potatoes per hour, the optical sorter has proved itself to be of great value. “One of our most recent Caretaker installations that features the optical sorting system, is for a large potato grower and processor in France, where the integrated optical sorter is working very well on dirty crops,” explains Charlie Rich, Export Sales Manager at Tong Engineering. “The addition of the optical sorter, which is built upon the Caretaker’s heavy duty chassis, has meant that they are now achieving very consistent and reliable removal of debris from crop without any manual inspection, and at high capacities.”
When specified as an option on the Tong Caretaker potato grader, the optical sorting unit is fitted in place of a standard inspection table, working on unwashed crop, separating foreign material from crop. Using the latest camera technology, the optical sorter scans all items whilst in-flight to identify and separate crop from clod, stones and foreign objects including wood, plastic, glass, bone, rubber, metal and more. The machine offers separation for a wide range of potato varieties, including main, seed and processing crop.
“Growers and packers are continuously looking to increase the efficiency and productivity of their handling systems, with a definite focus across the industry on labor and its associated costs,” says Charlie. “Whilst we are offering carrot and potato processors advanced optical sorting of washed crop with the increasingly popular Visar optical sorter, the removal of stones and clod from dirty crop still remains a somewhat manual process for most. This new optical sorting option now offers growers and fresh pack companies a fully automated system for consistent removal of stones and clods from unprocessed crops, which essentially removes the need for inspection staff at this stage in the process.”
“The new optical system, coupled with our latest Pro-Series Auto-Touch HMI control system, is bringing next generation automation to the intake crop handling process, for increased productivity and consistency whilst significantly reducing labor requirements,” added Charlie.