Every act of potatoes and onions is a risk for damage. By reducing this number and transporting the product as calmly as possible, a qualitatively better final product can be supplied. H.W. van der Peet & Zn could play a part in that. The company is specialised in loading and unloading systems, and sees a future particularly for electronically operated unloading systems.
Henk van der Peet.
Belt unloaders go international
The first conveyor belt unloader for potatoes and onions was developed in 1967. These were mostly used by packers and factories at first, but transporters use them a lot nowadays as well. “For example, transporters who load potatoes at the cultivator’s for delivering to packing stations and production companies,” Henk van der Peet says. Van der Peet has customers in 35 countries, from the Netherlands to Japan and Canada. Most vehicles are sold in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, the UK and France.
By now, the Dutch company also builds belt unloaders and transport systems for other bulk products, such as tinned foods, mussels, cacao and coffee beans, salt, sand and fodder. “Moreover, by expanding our basic version with additional compartments, an additional transportation belt, special drives, and more, we can realise complete unloading lines at the production sites. Our transport systems have been placed with Dutch potato and chips producers, but we also realised a large project in the UK for a coffee bean factory, and our systems are used for unloading salt in Germany.”
Van der Peet’s main starting point for the systems is loading and unloading as product-friendly as possible. “The product is at risk of being damaged with every action. Limiting these risks, by using a conveyor belt, for example, results in a better final product, and therefore in higher returns for the producer,” Henk says. “It is important for the quality of the potatoes that there is a constant flow, that the fall is dampened, and that a minimal falling height is used during loading and unloading. Damage can be mostly prevented by doing so.”
The safety net developed by the company itself can be used for that. Rubber belts are traditionally used to break the fall. According to Henk, these work perfectly when there is a constant supply of the product. “Nowadays, loading belts are often wider, and tilting crates are also used more often. Part of the potatoes will fall beside the system as a standard. We developed a different type of safety net: two nets that are assembled one above the other incrementally. By fixing elastic belts to them, the nets stretch with the amount of supply. The driver and the loading employee are important for this to work properly, but we are seeing good results.”
Development and progress
Aluminium is now mostly used for machines, instead of steel, resulting in less weight. Materials also have to meet food safety requirements. Furthermore, using variable motors is also an improvement. “The speed of the belt can be adjusted to the receiving capacity of the receiver thanks to the variable motors. This allows for more continuity of the product flow, resulting in fewer damages to the potatoes.” Henk sees great opportunities for electronically driving loading and unloading systems, which is already being applied increasingly often. “The lorry is then coupled to a system in an unloading space. The frequency of the belt is automatically adjusted to the amount of product to be unloaded. This does not just result in less manpower needed, but also leads to a constant and better controlled flow of the product, which is beneficial to the quality of the final product. We expect electronically driving the systems will have a huge impact on this type of transport.”
Capacity and efficiency also went through a positive development, according to Henk. Yet he expects even faster unloading will become possible in future, provided that the producer can handle more volume. Moreover, belt unloaders are used as moving bunkers increasingly often. By producing directly from the trailer, one or more actions can be prevented. For the frequent connecting and disconnecting, Van der Peet developed the Pneumatic Leg. Drivers no longer have to manually extend the legs, but can do so by just pushing one button. Henk has noticed that much is happening in the field of employee relief. “The Dutch Occupational Health and Safety Act is definitely something that has to be considered. You cannot just have an ergonomic work environment, it also has to be safe. That is why we developed the SafeWalk landing for rolling the canvas and for the driver’s supervisory part. We will also present the labour-friendly handle at Interpom.”
Environment and savings
The Kolibri, the self-supporting conveyor belt unloader, is the family company’s showpiece. This conveyor belt unloader, which was developed in-house and is named for the lightest bird in the world, the hummingbird, is self-supporting. “This means that the unloader does not have a complete frame,” Henk explains. “Because of this, we managed a reduction of over 17 per cent on the total weight. This increases the loading capacity and that means the number of loads can be decreased. And that is good for both the environment and the road system.” Van der Peet then developed the Kolibri Sreamer, a streamlined version of the Kolibri. “The Kolibri Streamer is a trailer that can be built in a streamlined version without having to make concessions to loading volume, floor length or loading capacity. Lowering CO2 emissions is a hot issue. Not much can be developed anymore in the field of fuel consumption, but I definitely see a good future for our Kolibri Streamer.”
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H.W. van der Peet & Zn
Henk van der Peet