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Requirements of crisp factories make washing potatoes a necessity
Thomas Thuillier from French cooperative Chipex has noticed that the requirements of crisp factories are becoming ever higher. The company supplies about 100,000 tonnes of potatoes to crisp manufacturers. The potatoes are washed before they are delivered to the manufacturers. In order to serve the members as much as possible, a mobile washing machine has been bought.
Of the 100,000 tonnes marketed by Chipex, 80 per cent is contractual. The potatoes are delivered by the seven members of the cooperation. They are good for 20 to 25 per cent of the potatoes traded by the company. The remaining potatoes are bought from growers in the region. About forty growers supply to Chipex contractually.
“We supply 60 per cent of the volume in Europe. The remainder is meant for destinations outside of Europe,” Thomas says. The destinations outside the EU are mostly the Middle East and Asia. “We are washing more and more potatoes, because factories make higher and higher demands,” he continues. The cooperative uses a permanent washing line for the washing. Because the company wants to wash the potatoes at the farms, the group invested in a mobile washing line.
Hein Kortebos from Tummers has also noticed that the requirements of crisp manufacturers are increasing. He knows mobile washers are often used for the crisp industry. That is because of the high claims imposed on farmers by crisp manufacturers when foreign objects are found among the potatoes, among other things. “I know of one farmer who lost his phone in the potatoes. The crisp factory was closed, and the farmer received a claim for 40,000 euro,” Hein exemplifies.
That is a specific characteristic of the crisp manufacturers. Chips factories have their own washing lines and reading tables at the factories. Tummers developed a new, mobile washer that is both energy and water saving. The French Chipex is the first to start using this new washer. “It is the first mobile washer in this line for us,” Hein continues.
Self-cleaning washing machine
“We have equipped the machine with an endless mortar. Because of that, all the dirt gathers on one side of the washer drum,” Hein explains. “We remove the dirt from the machine with a conveyor belt, so that it is self-cleaning.” Earlier models used a tank that was placed next to the washer. Because this machine is self-cleaning, that tank is no longer needed. “Because of that, the machine is even more mobile.”
“It is actually three machines in one: a washing machine, a stone and lump remover and the floating parts, such as leaves, are also removed.” After the potatoes have been washed, they end up on the reading belt. The reading table consists of rolls with a belt underneath it. Because of that combination, not just the speed with which the potatoes are transported across the table can be adjusted, but also the speed with which the potatoes revolve around their axes. “The reading belt was made possible in cooperation with Wevano. An added advantage is that people working the belt no longer have water leaking on their knees.”
Besides potatoes, beets and carrots can also be washed with the machine. “The water level in the washer drum can be adjusted,” Hein says. “You need a high water level to wash potatoes, and a low water level to wash carrots.” Chipex uses the machine for washing potatoes for now. Besides supplying the crisp manufacturers, smaller volumes are sold to chips factories. That is about 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes. About 10,000 to 13,000 tonnes of table potatoes are supplied each year. “This is mostly done in large bales of 25 kilograms,” Thomas concludes. Originally, the company focused on the sales of its members’s potatoes. “When that goes well, we will gradually expand the activities.”
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