Industrial onion peeling is labor-intensive, and peeling small onions takes even more time. In other words - the larger the onion, the better the returns. Larger onions have, however, become increasingly scarce in recent years. So, the industry’s returns have decreased.
The dry summers are causing onions yields to shrink. And, in recent years, large onions have become scarce. The industrial peeling of small onions time-consuming and labor-intensive. So, industry returns are down. The Dutch company, Finis-Eillert, therefore, put their development team to work. They had to redesign the small onion peeler and come up with an entirely new machine.
Ton van Raaij, CEO Finis-Eillert
“There were two important market changes that motivated us to do this,” says Ton van Raaij, Finis-Eillert’s CEO. “Firstly, more onion farmers want to process their stocks. That only becomes effective if you process the entire stock. Otherwise, you’re left with the small sizes which you can’t get rid of. Secondly, weather conditions play a role. When it’s dry at the wrong time during the season, the onions keep getting smaller.”
“It’s costly to process small onions, so labor costs climb. There wasn’t a machine on the market that could peel these onions effectively. So, we were faced with a challenge - how could we make peeling these small onions profitable? Our R&D team got to work, and now the machine has been installed in different companies worldwide. There’s a lot of interest in Europe. But also from overseas countries in North America and Asia.”
Fully automated onion peeler
Finis-Eillert has been a market leader in the field of onion peeling for years. They have the TopNotch, which peels large onions. “We’re continually busy optimizing our machines,” says the CEO. “We’re currently developing an upgraded version of the TopNotch peeler’s vision technology. These improvements ensure more flexibility and higher accuracy.”
“That’s when automatically positioning the onions. Production has officially started already. The first new versions will be installed in Europe and the US at the end of the year. Our vision is to automate onion peeling machines fully, so no personnel is needed. We’re nearing that goal. Staff shortage in the sector is a huge problem. This could offer a solution,” Ton concludes.
The small onion peeler can process onions as small as ⌀40mm. The onions are automatically positioned and then topped and tailed. Knives scratch the onion’s peel, which is blasted away by air at the final station. The peeler has a capacity of about 18,000 onions/hour.
Ton van Raaij