In the past decade, California has seen a dramatic increase in tree nut production, in particular in almonds and pistachios. As a result, significantly higher volumes of nuts need to be processed and processors are looking to increase capacity.
“We’ve responded to their needs by building processing equipment that sets a new standard in the almond and pistachio industries,” says Blake Garabedian with Valley Welding & Machine Works (VWM). The company is based in the Central Valley, the epicenter of California’s almond and pistachio growing region. Outside the US, the company is also seeing demand for their equipment going up around the globe. “The almond industries in Australia and Spain are growing while pistachios are seeing increased production in Turkey, Iran, and Italy,” Garabedian said.
Maximized overall performance
“We’ve been in business since 1946 and brought our ‘advanced processing’ system into the raisin industry,” he continued. “Applying that same expertise to almonds and pistachios has allowed processors to process faster with superior product quality. They are seeing a maximized overall performance as a result.” With VWM’s advanced processing systems, processors have been able to achieve about two to four times the production speed, allowing them to get their products out the door quicker.
Removing foreign materials while minimizing yield loss
Although VWM offers many different types of equipment for the nut processing industry, one product the company is particularly well-known for is the SuperVac, a cleaning system designed to remove product defects. Excess foreign materials like stems, hulls, shells, and vines are being removed without excessive loss of product. “It’s a critical component in the sorting process as it greatly minimizes yield loss,” said Garabedian. The SuperVac system can be used for dry products (almonds) as well as wet products (pistachios).
The SuperVac removes product defects.
Once the nuts have been cleaned, they make their way to the electronic sorter. “We have equipment in almost every stage of nut processing, but the sorter is sold by different manufacturers,” shared Garabedian. “However, we are an integrator that builds all equipment upstream and downstream of the sorter and make it compatible. We work very closely with the sorting companies and integrate all our equipment with the sorter.”
Sizer can process 35,000 lbs/hour
After the product is cleaned and sorted it is then ready to be either bulk-filled or sized prior to packaging. For almonds, sizing is very important and will take place in VWM’s VI-PRO sizer that takes high volumes and efficiently separates them into eight different sizes by means of VWM’s patented Advance Flow sizing screens. “We manufacture the only almond sizer that can process 35,000 pounds per hour in eight different sizes.” From there, the nuts make their way over to the packaging line, also built by VWM.
VWM's Sizer can process up to 35,000 lbs. of nuts per hour.
“What makes us unique is that we build everything, from in-shell lines, to sorting lines, to packaging lines,” mentioned Garabedian. “With our equipment, we streamline the entire process with higher capacity, minimized yield loss, resulting in a cleaner finished product.” Click on the video below to learn more about VWM’s work in the almond industry.