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“Peel return important when developing potato machines”

Machinery manufacturer Sormac focuses on machinery for the processing industry. The machines vary from potato, carrot and onion peeling machines to drying machines for leafy vegetables. In addition, Sormac designs and installs complete processing and sorting lines. Commercial manager Roy Lemmen sees an increasing demand for sustainable and hygienic machines.

Sormac, a Dutch company, designs and produces potato and vegetable processing machines. “Improving existing and developing new techniques is what we are good at,” says Roy Lemmen, Sormac’s commercial manager. The company is mainly active in European countries, the US, Canada and Oceania. Furthermore, a trend can be seen in countries in which fast food chains are significantly developing, such as Asia and South America. 

The company delivers customer-specific potato processing lines with a capacity of up to 6,000 kilograms per hour. Sormac also has machines in its delivery programme for other products, according to Lemmen. “We have installed more than 150 gherkin sorting lines globally,” he gives as an example. “We also have a machine that takes the core out of bell peppers for bell pepper processing, and we are strong in peeling beetroots.”

High peel returns
Sormac is particularly good in peeling when it comes to potatoes. The manufacturer developed multiple peeling machines. “For example, our knife peeler type MS. This machine was developed to continually peel pre-cleaned or pre-scraped tuberous products, such as potatoes, beetroot, celeriac and others. Comparison tests show that our MS series has the best peeling result every time. The final result is smooth, as if it had been manually peeled,” says Lemmen. He says that the potatoes without any bumps are peeled in their entirety. Partially because of that, peel returns are higher than with other machines. “Some characteristics of our lines are robustness, hygiene and safety.”

When asked which wishes are central to potato machines, Lemmen mentions, among other things, improving shelf life, removing bruises and limiting waste. For the final product it is important that the potatoes are peeled completely but without peeling too much. Because machines do not have the correct shape, it could occur that a potato has been peeled on one side but not or barely on the other sides. “Our drum has a special shape, and the knives have been placed inside the drum in such a manner that this is prevented. We also vary the rotational speed of the drum, and the speed of the transportation worm.”

The biggest developments or improvements of new potato machines have been made in the field of sustainability, according to Lemmen. For example, new machines save significantly in energy. Developing intelligently and choosing the right engines is part of this. “The machines have to be good and easy to clean,” he adds. “Many customers work with fresh products, which come with strict hygiene regulations. That is definitely something that we have been considering when designing and developing our new machines in recent years.”

Lemmen also notices that customers prefer actively helping to solve problems. “We always try to take it one step further than what the customer expects. For example, we made a start with our own laboratory in order to get a better grip on questions and problems of customers, and in that way, we can more effectively serve them.” The extent and level of certifications has increased sharply in recent years, according to Lemmen. All parts and materials have to meet these.

What can still be expected in future? “Increasing yields and limiting waste remains an issue in a branch that works with a natural product, and that will always remain a challenge.”

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