Jack van Beek, Looije Verpakkingen, the Netherlands

"Having our own citrus washing line means fewer people and a better end product"

Looije Verpakkingen packs and repacks fruit. This company is busy at many cooling warehouses and importers in the Netherlands. This company's first site was at Cool Port Packing Rotterdam. This gave them a taste for more. Last summer, they moved into a building at ABC Westland in Poeldijk. It is 1.800 m2, with five loading docks and a dedicated citrus washing line. Varekamp Coldstores is this project's logistics partner.

Jack van Beek

"We have been using a citrus washing line at Cool Control since 2014. This year, we invested in a new line at our own location," says Looije Verpakkingen's Commercial Manager, Jack van Beek. "We meet a need with this. The line can run in overtime during the overseas citrus season. Clients see an improved end product and that the line saves on staff. Some weeks, it runs for up to 22 hours per day."

Tipping the bins

"Looije Packing in Poeldijk is a nice addition to Cool Port Packing Rotterdam, our packing plant in Rotterdam. With this citrus washing line, we can process multiple containers per dag. In Rotterdam, we focus on packaging and repackaging large volumes. We do this on a smaller scale in Poeldijk. Here, we work with various net packaging and flow packs, too," says Jack.  

The citrus is tipped out of the boxes or bins onto the line. This citrus includes oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit as well as limes. The fruit is first sprinkled with water. Poor quality fruit is then removed by hand. The line uses a limited amount of water. This is thanks to a combination of air and water spraying. The citrus is then brushed and dried twice. It then goes to the sorting part of the line.

This new citrus washing line is from MAF Roda. It uses state-of-the-art technology. This technology includes high-resolution HD cameras and infrared lights. The citrus turns in the line's cups. This rotation means each piece is photographed 12 times. The fruit is lit from all sides for this. The cameras can pick up the tiniest fungal spots. This is thanks to the infrared lights. The fruit can also be sorted by color.

"Some fungal traces cannot be seen with the naked eye. In this way, these are detected. The piece of fruit is immediately removed. Only the best citrus remains to be packed. Further contamination of the batch is prevented, too," states Van Beek. "Thanks to this new line, the citrus is ready in no time. It can be delivered to the client, fresh and sparklingly clean. We have also noticed that, with this machine, our outage has been reduced from 12 to 8%."

The line can wash and sort organic products as well. This type of work just requires the machine to be thoroughly cleaned. "The nice thing is that this machine has endless possibilities. We only started using it halfway through the season. Despite this, we are sending four more operators for training. They will go to Maf Roda in Spain in week 47. They will then be able to operate the machine even better."

"We, therefore, expect that, in the long run, we will get even more use out of this machine than we do now," adds the Commercial Manager. The company plans on having more than just this citrus washing line. In the coming season, they are going to install three more lines - a net line and two flow pack lines.

Jack was asked if Looije will also move to washing and packaging other kinds of fruit. Or whether an overseas packaging site is a possibility. To this, he answered, "For now, we want first to get the hang of citrus washing. After that, we will see. There are no plans for an overseas plant. There is enough work, locally. Our current location is great, after all. We do not compete with anyone with this citrus washing line. And, the Port of Rotterdam is around the corner. We are in the perfect location."

For more information:
Jack van Beek
Looije Verpakkingen
177 Honderdland
2676 LT Maasdijk, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 174 523 202

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