Tomra Food has introduced the Tomra 3A sensor-based sorting machine for freshly harvested root crops, offering potato growers sorting capabilities, dependability, and affordability. The TOMRA 3A replaces the FPS (Field Potato Sorter) machine with which TOMRA first entered this specialized sector seven years ago and has been developed in light of customer feedback and experience accumulated during this time.
The sorter is typically used at the entrance to a potato storage shed, where it provides a final clean-up immediately after the freshly harvested crop has passed through a mechanical grader and soil removal equipment. The sorter employs an in-flight inspection and ejection process to detect and remove stones, soil clods and other debris from the incoming product. The Tomra 3A is designed to operate at high capacity, because of the time pressures of short harvesting seasons, and to gently move the product without risk of damaging or bruising it.
Jim Frost, Product Manager at Tomra Food, said: “The Tomra 3A improves upon its predecessor. In developing this machine, we have learned from our experience working with farmers in this sector and have adopted market-leading technologies already proven in some of our other sorting applications. As a result, this machine gives farmers what they’ve told us they want: greater capacity, green potato removal, no product bruising, greater robustness and reliability, easy to use and to move around, more data and statistics, and lower cost of ownership.”
Sophisticated imaging technology and more automated functions
The Tomra 3A’s sophisticated imaging system, unlike the FPS’s, has color-detection capabilities to identify unwanted green potatoes. Solid-state, pulsed LED illumination technology with high resolution cameras is able to distinguish between organic matter (the crop) and inorganic matter (foreign material).
The optical system has no moving parts when in operation, which improves reliability, and the fully-sealed camera enclosure is tolerant of environmental conditions such as rain, wind, dust and heat. Newly developed Tomra technology such as automated camera alignment and calibration guarantee the sorter’s stability. In addition, new optical temperature control ensures consistency of optical signals, delivering sorter stability and efficiency from the cool of the morning into the heat of the day.
The Tomra 3A performs well when pushed to meet the tight deadlines of a short harvesting season, with capacity increased over the FPS’s by up to 30%. Gentle handling of the potato continues to be a key feature of Tomra sorters. The ‘accept’ conveyor, through unique design, captures, decelerates and delivers good accepted potatoes without product collisions or bruising.
The space needed for storage is reduced because foreign materials and poor-quality potatoes are so efficiently removed. Moreover, the farmer is empowered to supply customers with the high-quality product, confidently meeting agreed specifications.
The Tomra 3A will be shown publicly for the first time on September 4th and 5th at the Potato Europe exhibition in Tournai (Kain), Belgium, on Tomra’s stand, booth 16.