Potato machine takes place of testing room

Industrial peeling of potatoes can be tricky. To work as efficiently as possible, the machine should remove as little skin as possible. When the potato has defects, the process becomes even more complicated: the defect needs to be removed, with as little loss of produce as possible. Kiremko introduced the PeelGuard earlier this year: a complex machine that’s best described as an inspector of the peeled product. It can be used in industry, but also for refrigerated products.

Machine builder Kiremko started developing the PeelGuard in 2008. Since 2013, pilots have been running at various companies. Early this year, the PeelGuard was presented at Anuga FoodTec. Eric van Oorschot, innovation manager at Kiremko, explains how the machine works.

Testing room in a machine
“The PeelGuard is a measuring system for peeled products, usually potatoes,” Eric says. The machine has various applications, for instance in chips and crisps plants. “A peeled potato for chips and crisps plants is never 100% peeled. One of the things PeelGuard measures is the percentage of skin residue on the product.” The machine is equipped with a weighing belt and camera system, providing data on things like defects, such as green or black spots on potatoes, but also the length of every potato.

“The machine really does the same as what happens in a testing room, with the big difference being that we look at all potatoes, instead of just taking a sample.” That the inspection takes place after peeling is logical, Eric explains. “Superficial defects are removed anyway, it’s mainly the deeper defects that are important to the processors.”

Measuring skin depth
Apart from deploying the machine for industry, the PeelGuard is also suitable for inspection of refrigerated potatoes. “For refrigeration, the potatoes need to be fully peeled, and no skin must remain. PeelGuard calculates skin depth, and thus the loss during the process.” With the measured weights of the unpeeled product and the data after peeling compiled by the machine, the PeelGuard calculates how much potato was lost.

If the peeling machine peels too thickly, too much produce is thrown away. The PeelGuard helps with an efficient application of peeling. “At one point, you can peel deeper and deeper to cut away a defect from a single potato, but too much good product is thrown away. Then it’s better to peel less deeply, and remove the potatoes with a defect later.”

Sorting and vegetable peeling
PeelGuard isn’t a sorting machine, but it can directly control the peeling machine, whether it’s done with steam or carborundum, as long as the peeling machine’s software allows for this.

Together with Concept Engineers, Kiremko did develop an application with which the PeelGuard can be mounted on a sorting machine: the PeelGuard LT. In that case, the machine combines the optical sorting feature with controlling the peeling machine.

“At the moment, mainly chip factories are interested in the machine, but we also get requests from vegetable processors.” Products like winter carrot, celeriac and rutabaga are industrially peeled. The PeelGuard might offer a solution for that as well. “That requires adjusting the software and control circuits though. We are working on making the PeelGuard suitable for these products as well.”

More information:
Eric van Oorschot

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