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Portugese potato trader increases productivity & quality with new food sorter

Last June, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos, a family business located in the municipality of Mira (Portugal) dedicated to the trade of bagged potatoes and onions, purchased a Sentinel II optical food sorter from TOMRA.

This machine is equipped with the latest pulsed LED technology for sorting food at a higher speed than earlier models. 

Sergio Pinho, Manager of Oliveira Pinho & Filhos said "Some farmers in France spoke very highly of the TOMRA machinery.”

“Then, at the Fruit Attraction fruit and vegetable trade show in Madrid, I was able to meet some people from TOMRA in person.”

The new Sentinel II installed in the Portuguese factory is used for sorting potatoes, which are provided in bulk by farmers from different countries. After the washing and drying process, the potatoes pass the inspection zone before they are packaged for sale.

Alejandro Palacios Valencia, Sales Director Spain and Portugal for TOMRA Sorting Food said "The ejectors work with high precision and allow the high-speed ejection of foreign material and bad potatoes."

Before and after 
Before integrating the Sentinel II in their production line, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos performed this sorting process manually. They used four people for this, which ultimately meant dedicating more time and resources to an inefficient sorting process. 

Sergio Pinho said "The Sentinel II allowed us to increase the final quality of the goods with less labour. Our customers are more satisfied and the process in our factory has significantly improved." 

"In fact, now one worker deals with the machine while the other three employees have been reassigned to other jobs where they were much more needed."

Alejandro Palacios Valencia said "with the Sentinel II, we have responded to the customer's specific need to increase the quality of their product. The sorting machine sorts the potatoes on colour, rejecting the green potatoes or those with spots or rot.”

“It also detects foreign material such as sticks and stones and eliminates it from the final product offered for sale by Oliveira, which again enhances quality."

The arrival of the machine at the factory also resulted in a better division of labour and an increased productivity. Sergio Pinho said "The amount of potatoes that we are capable of sorting has increased thanks to the Sentinel II. Now we can inspect 15 tons/hour of small potatoes and 20 tons/hour of medium-sized potatoes."

Sergio Pinho confirms that the team received training from TOMRA that allowed them "to easily configure the machine for different potato varieties and colours. In addition, the Sentinel II needs little maintenance and thanks to its relatively small size fits very well in our production line." 

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