Belgian-based potato processor Agristo has installed a customised packing line solution for frozen French Fries from Ishida Europe and its sole distributer in Belgium, BRN, to deliver maximum production throughput and efficiencies as part of Agristo’s new state-of-the-art factory in Tilburg.
The Ishida/BRN solution handles the packing process from the outfeed of the freezing tunnel to the infeed of product to bagmakers. It incorporates six of Ishida’s state-of-the-art CCW-R series weighers, handling pack sizes from 450g to 2.5kg at speeds of up to 100 bags per minute for the 450g pack.
Established in 1985, Agristo has grown into one of the leading suppliers of potato products, producing over 200,000 tons each year. The company specialises in frozen and pre-fried French Fries, supplying the majority as own label in over 80 countries worldwide. Agristo’s longstanding relationship with BRN and Ishida made them the obvious choice to devise a suitable packing solution for the new factory. In particular, the logistics of the project made it imperative that responsibilities were clearly defined among a small number of key suppliers, and BRN was selected to handle the packaging requirements alongside three other main suppliers for the building, the processing area and automation.
From the freezing tunnel the French Fries progress onto an integrated weigh belt, which monitors line capacity. In order to regulate any fluctuations in the production and packing process and ensure a regular feed of product to the weighers, any excess of product is held in a special FiFo buffer to be fed back into the packing line at the appropriate time. Product is also checked to remove any sub-standard items (for example black spots) and then sorted into the correct ratio of short and long length fries. Excessive shorter length fries are diverted for subsequent packing on a line dedicated to this product.
The Ishida weighers are CCW-R-214W-S/50-WP models, featuring a hygienic waterproof construction designed for frozen food applications. A key challenge of the installation was to keep the upper and lower packing areas separate to enable easy hose down cleaning of the weighers while preventing water ingress into the dry packing area below. In addition, the cross feeders feature a 0.5m³ buffer capacity to regulate product flow to the weighers.
The R-Series weighers use state-of-the-art hardware and software to calculate and check weight combinations at high speeds, leading to significant reductions in product giveaway. Increased calculation speed also adds to overall efficiency, as the weigher practically never finds it necessary to dump a weighment because it is over- or underweight. Operator intervention is kept to a minimum by an automatic feed control system and by the self-tuning vibratory system which automatically adjusts vibration amplitude to optimise product flow.
Part of the fries can be fed offline either to be mixed with a processed product or packed separately as finished product.
“Ishida and BRN’s approach to our requirements was excellent,” comments Antoon Wallays of Agristo. “They demonstrated a full understanding of what was needed, flexibility in the solution they designed, and professionalism and fast response in its installation.”