Quality and food safety are essential for Ardo, one of the world’s largest fresh-frozen fruit, vegetable and herb producers. That is why they have invested in the latest Sortex F optical sorters from Bühler, featuring the peerless Sortex PolarVision foreign material detection system. In addition they have taken advantage of the PolarVision upgrade kit and saved significant costs by retrofitting the advanced technology into their existing Sortex E sorters.
Ardo has 21 state-of-the-art production, packing and distribution sites in nine countries, employing 3,800 employees. It is a hugely successful business, turning over €1bn (US$1.13bn) a year, processing 860,000 tonnes of high-quality frozen fruit, vegetables and herbs, which are sold to customers in more than 100 countries.
To ensure high quality and ultra-freshness, Ardo’s production facilities are located near to fertile agricultural centres in Europe, close to where its carefully selected network of 3,500 growers operate. This helps to ensure that produce is as fresh as possible, while food quality and safety also remains high, because Ardo’s production sites are certified to internationally recognised standards, while complying with strict food safety and HACCP standards.
“Food safety is hugely important – it’s the cornerstone of our corporate strategy – and we invest in the most advanced technologies to help us to achieve this,” says Steven Van Engelandt, Ardo’s Group Project Engineer. “We’ve been using Bühler sorting technology for many years and now have their PolarVision technology on our sorting lines around Europe. In our Belgium production facility, for instance, we’ve just finished upgrading our Sortex Es with PolarVision, as we needed to enhance our ability to remove any kind of foreign material (FM).”
Ardo operates the pioneering Sortex F optical sorter from Bühler, fitted, as standard, with Sortex PolarVision – Bühler’s specialist detection system, combining two pioneering proprietary technologies, to deliver unprecedented FM detection. They recently installed another two Sortex Fs at their processing plant in Benimodo, Spain. Van Engelandt adds: “The Sortex F perfectly meets our quality, safety and hygiene standards. Consumers everywhere are becoming more demanding. Quite rightly they expect high quality and safety from a leading brand such as Ardo.
“We cannot fail in that, if we are to meet that expectation and retain our market position. We must take care of each single detail within our supply chain, which means not only using the right technology, but also choosing the right technology suppliers, who share our vision. We see Bühler as our technology partner.
“In our experience, PolarVision technology is one of the best digital-vision technologies when it comes to detecting FM in the industrial frozen vegetables process. It’s a jump forward”, Van Engelandt continues. “We tested all other options, including laser, chlorophyll, translucency, but PolarVision was unsurpassed and it’s becoming standard in all our plants. When we were testing PolarVision, formerly problematic FM such as snails and dark plastic, became visible, and were removed, with an increase in yields, due to a more precise detection of defects.”
When asked why Ardo decided to upgrade its Sortex Es rather than buying new Fs, Van Engelandt replies: “The Es were a great investment at the time. They took our quality to the upper levels of the standards required. They remain reliable and by upgrading with PolarVision technology, we could achieve a superior sort similar to the Sortex F but for a significantly lower capital investment,” he smiles. “And, fitting the PolarVision upgrade kit is unbelievably quick. Within a day or two, our machines are back up and running like new.
“In the future, if old machines need replacing, we’ll go straight for the latest generation Sortex Fs. We aim to have the most efficient technology to ensure quality and protect consumers from risk posed by FM. Safety remains our key challenge, as for all food processors. This is especially true with frozen products, because consumers perceive this kind of product as almost ready to eat.”
Stefano Bonacina, Segment Development Manager for Fruit & Vegetables in Europe and CIS, summarises: “Sourcing the finest local products, investing in the most advanced sorting solutions and upgrading where required ensures that Ardo’s food safety and quality standards remain industry leading.
“Processors who want to achieve a greater sorting efficiency in terms of FM as well as colour defect removal, can choose from the Sortex F fitted with PolarVision or if they already have the Sortex E they can upgrade it.
“The PolarVision upgrade kit has been designed to be installed with minimum disruption and downtime, enabling the removal of notoriously difficult to detect FM, for a fraction of the cost of investing in a new sorter.”
Bonacina concludes: “By investing in PolarVision you’ll not only benefit from a greater level of safety and quality, you’ll profit from higher yields and fewer consumer complaints.”
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