“We are pleased with the technological leadership of BEST and their ability to analyze our needs and recommend the most productive solutions to us,” explains Jan Janssen, Technical Manager at Aviko Group. The Dutch Aviko Group is a business partner to seven of the ten biggest retailers in Europe. Twenty percent of the group’s turnover in the Dutch, French and central European consumer markets is derived from products Aviko has introduced over the past five years. That exemplifies the importance of innovation in Aviko’s strategy.
Every bit of potato
With 1.5 million tons of potatoes processed yearly into French fries (fresh and frozen crispy varieties in many sizes, shapes and flavors), cooked and cut potato products, shaped potato specialties based on rösti, mash and potato granulate, and compound potato specialties, every bit of potato has to be used. “Getting everything the potato has to offer is fundamental to our success,” says Janssen. “A small loss in production volume is a considerable reduction of income. We want to reduce waste, and we count on BEST’s sorting technology to support this.”
In the group’s main processing unit in Steenderen, The Netherlands, four BEST Genius™ optical belt sorters have been installed in the processing line. Two of them have been inserted in the wet part, which comes after cutting. The sorters prove particularly useful for checking the quality of the raw materials. They are placed in line and they use monochromatic, high resolution cameras to take out the main defects and discolorations.
The two other machines have been placed after freezing, where they perform a final quality check on the frozen potato products with color cameras, to detect the remaining defects and discolorations, rejecting them by air guns positioned at the end of the conveyor belt. These sorters are also equipped with a laser unit, for the detection and removal of foreign material.
In the Belgian Eurofreez site (Proven), one Genius™ belt sorter has been installed. This sorter has also been placed in the wet part. It detects discolorations, making sure high, qualitative potato products continue down the processing line.
The BEST sorters take out defects, discolorations and foreign material, according to Aviko’s requirements. In addition, the false reject level is kept to a minimum, so very limited quantities of good product are rejected by the machine. “As mentioned before, this is essential for us. Losing or keeping a small percentage of potato products implies an important difference in our raw material cost.”
Because of the consistent achievement of the sorters in the plant in Steenderen and Proven, Aviko decided some months ago to also invest in sorting equipment for the second Dutch Aviko site in Lomm. Two Genius™ belt sorters have been placed in the wet part of the processing line for the detection of defects, dark brown and light green discolorations.
Leading in technology
“BEST’s primary attribute is its hard work and innovative power in developing successful technology,” says Janssen. “One of the advantages of BEST sorting equipment is the width of the belt, which needs to be large enough to guarantee throughput. A specially developed optical configuration for French fries, allowing BEST to inspect every inch of the product by inspecting potatoes from different angles, is quite innovative and an important performance improvement. The quality for our consumers is our main priority. Through technological innovation, BEST helps us to guarantee these high levels of quality.”
“BEST has been an important player in the industry for years. They have proven expertise in the sorting of potato products, as well as in the combination of laser and camera on one machine, which comforts us in making our investment decisions,” concludes Janssen.
Knowledge of the sorting trade
Janssen also appreciates the way BEST equipment employs innovative solutions. Using standard parts is a comfort zone for customers. “It’s just easy and cost-effective in terms of maintenance. It’s also part of the user-friendliness of BEST’s solutions.”
“If all else fails, we can count on BEST’s professional support services, but I have to admit there hasn’t been any need for that. To be on the safe side, we’ve had a technical employee trained by BEST. He is now able to instruct and assist our sorting line workers to use the BEST sorters to the best of their potential. Only when you ‘live’ the sorting trade can you offer this service.”
“Sorting is indeed a trade of its own and each processing plant has its own requirements, depending on the customers it serves. Belt sorters need to meet the requirements of the end customer, such as restaurant chains that are particularly precise on the length of French fries. With its Inline Length Measurement (ILM) module, BEST Genius™ sorters measure the fries’ length and indicate their compliance to preset specifications.”
“BEST Genius™ sorters are the ideal solution for our requirements and the BEST organization is highly capable of supporting all aspects of sorting activity. That’s why they are the market leader. We are eager to see more of their innovative solutions.”