During crop changes, many meters of shredded cloth go back and forth in the greenhouse. Reason enough for tomato grower Schenkeveld to start looking for a machine that cleans cloth well and processes it quickly and efficiently. A wish list was drawn up. The conclusion was that there was no machine on the market that could meet all the requirements. Therefore, Leon Schenkeveld approached Bart van Beusichem of Van Beusichem Mechanisatie to jointly develop a machine.
The cloth washer that resulted from the development process immediately proved to be a great asset to the growers, according to Leon. With some minor adjustments after the first rounds of crop rotation in the winter season 2021-2022, the machine is now exactly as desired. "This is the machine we think it should be," the grower with several locations is convinced. Bart: "Actually, we have made the machine a little less complex than we first thought.
100% through water
Schenkeveld's tomato growers had several items on their wish list. One of them was that the machine should be able to process several types of cloth. "Sometimes, you still have to deal with older cloths, which have tensile strength on only one side. You have to roll those cloths over. That takes time. With this machine, thanks to an intermediate roller, it is possible to rinse the cloths while the pulling direction remains the same. In this way, you can clean the cloths thoroughly."
There are already cloth washers on the market, but the growers did not choose them. Leon: "Many machines operate on the basis of a spray when cleaning and disinfecting. We do not want that. We believe it's better when the fabric goes through water with disinfectant one hundred percent. This machine makes that possible, and it's also fast."
In the machine, the cloths pass through two scrapers where the hard organic waste can be removed from the cloth, such as tomato seeds or leaf residue. After this, the cloth goes through a bath of water. Bart: "That way, the water with the disinfectant covers the entire cloth. Leon: "That is exactly what we want. We find it more reliable than a sprayer or mist blaster. It's easy for a part of that to malfunction, and you lose out on optimum disinfection. With the current virus issues, that is not what you want. At the request of the growers, the cloth washer must be able to withstand all types of disinfectants, including chlorine. Bart: "That's why we decided to make the machine out of stainless steel."
Rolling up and unrolling straight
At the beginning of August, Leon was carrying out a crop change at one of Schenkeveld's locations. There he saw again that the speed of the machine was also quite good. "With 125-meter rolls, we ended up with 12 rolls per hour. Depending on the roll length you use, that figure varies."
It is also important that the machine rolls the cloths straight as well as quickly. Bart devised a clever system for this that works with sensors. "This allows the machine to roll the cloths up and down in a neat and straight line, without a human having to control it."
The growers have developed the machine themselves. Leon: "We have enough greenhouses to take that step and can now choose the moment of deployment ourselves. At the moment, two of our temporary workers are visiting all the locations with the machine. It is therefore important for us that the machine is mobile.
Bart says that is why the machine is on wheels. "The machine is 6 meters long, and you can roll it into a (small) truck. You don't have to take the machine apart." Leon confirms. "We have a float on the water tank. Plug it in, connect the hose for water to the pad pump and use a dosatron that we adjust to the percentage of disinfectant we want to give."
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