Stacking Up Benefits for Growers
Herdi palletizers, which have stacked potatoes for 15 years in Europe, are now available to Canadian growers. Saskatoon-based Lewis M. Carter Manufacturing (Canada) Ltd. is offering a full line of Herdi palletizing systems. “Herdi palletizers are proven in the European potato industry,” says Chris Hammel, sales and service manager for LMC. He says the P600 and P800 models are ideal for Canadian growers. “These models are targeted at smaller Canadian producers. They’re the perfect machines because of the capacities and the price.”
Bags are fed into the P600 or P800 by a belt conveyor onto an elevator that lifts them to a 10-pronged gripper, which gently grabs and lifts one bag at a time. The bags are placed into the correct position on the pallet by the gripper according to the programmed pattern at rates of 600 to 800 bags per hour. “For this style of palletizer, Herdi’s P800 offers the best speed on the market,” says Hammel.
This system is a simpler version of multi-axis robotic palletizers, says Hammel. “We do have a full robotic line for producers that want more capacity, but robots can be a little more involved, especially if setting up a fully automated, integrated system. The Herdi system is the same idea, but provides palletizing at a lower capacity for a lower capital cost.”
Ease of use is another important feature, Hammel says. Growers access stacking programs through a touch-screen display. “The operator interface on the touch screen has evolved over many years to make it as user-friendly as possible.”
One of the main reasons for growers to invest in a palletizer is to improve health and safety on the job, especially for operators repeatedly lifting heavier bags, says Hammel. “But over the last couple of years we’ve been selling systems to growers primarily to make up for labour shortages.”
Complete customization of all systems is offered in addition to stand-alone units. Palletizers can be equipped with further automation, including automatic pallet handling, slip sheets and stretch wrapping, and can handle bags up to 50 kilograms.
Precision Brings Premium Price
Kerian Machines Inc. has developed a new type of roller for its Kerian Speed Sizer. North American potato producers are demanding more precision when sorting small-sized potatoes. For increased accuracy, Kerian Machines, which has been serving the industry for over 40 years, has designed rubber spool rollers that create a circular opening between the sizing rollers to simulate the rings inspectors use to verify sizing. “When we first developed the sizer, the primary focus of growers was accuracy on A-size potatoes, but over the last few years, focus has shifted to the B-size,” says James Kerian, president of Kerian Machines. “The new roller allows for particularly precise separation of the B-size.”
Small-sized potatoes are in demand, and growers are responding to the higher price they fetch, says Kerian. “In Europe, there’s always been a premium on those smaller potatoes. It has now become a trend here—restaurants and grocery stores are more interested in them. There is higher demand across the potato industry for the B-size, or Canada No. 1 Small 1½ to 2¼ inches, and that size is a much more valuable commodity than it was 10 or 15 years ago.”
The new roller continues to provide accurate separation of all sizes of potato, and offers the same gentle handling growers have come to expect. “Growers are very reassured to learn the same design is used to sort fresh, ripe tomatoes and peaches,” says Kerian. He also notes the machine pays for itself in savings. “The Kerian Speed Sizer often pays for itself in one season in terms of reduced labour cost in grading.”
New Ventilation System
Controlled Air has just released its KeepTheHeat exhaust system, an integrated ventilation system that works by exchanging the heated, contaminated air inside a storage facility for clean air from the outside. As the incoming fresh air passes into the facility, travelling at 2,000 cubic feet per minute through corrugated tubing, it is heated by the outgoing air—ensuring that no valu able heat is lost.
“The unit can be a key component in carbon dioxide control for potato storage,” notes John Laffradi, service manager at the Winkler, Man.-based company. “We exhaust carbon dioxide-laden air above the pile and replace it with fresh air from outside into the plenum without introducing excessively cold air to the product in the winter or hot air in the summer.”
Beyond saving heating costs, according to Laffradi, the KeepTheHeat system offers growers many other benefits. “It can also be used for humidity control and/or air quality improvement in grading areas, shops, or work areas by exhausting humid or contaminated air, and bringing in fresh, drier air very close to the temperature of the air being exhausted. These units are extremely efficient and very effective.”
Tri-Steel Launches Hybrid Washer
Tri-Steel Manufacturing Inc. has launched a new washing system for potatoes. The Hybrid Washer is a simple, economical machine that offers growers greater flexibility, says sales manager for Tri-Steel, Scott Homstad. “The Hybrid Washer provides gentle and, alternatively, aggressive scrubbing. The system has a number of the same qualities of expensive polishers, at an affordable price.”
Homstad says the system is specially suited to potato growers. “Volume, variety, soil conditions, fresh versus stored product—all of these variables affect how you best wash your potatoes, and the Tri-Steel Hybrid Washer is the perfect machine for the job.”
Called “hybrid” because of its ability to change from a flat washing table to a trough via hydraulics, the system is designed to adapt to a producer’s specific needs. Its brush rollers are oriented to the flow of the product and can be adjusted for speed as well as gentle to aggressive scrubbing. The washer’s roller bed can also be tilted for quick and efficient discharge.
The Hybrid Washer comes equipped with a mounted hydraulic power unit, premium motors and gear reducers, centralized grease bank, stainless steel frame, among other features. The system can be custom-sized by request.
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