Last June, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos purchased a Sentinel II optical food sorter from TOMRA.
This machine is equipped with the latest pulsed LED technology for sorting food at a higher speed than earlier models.
Manager of Oliveira Pinho & Filhos Sergio Pinho said: “Some farmers in France spoke very highly of the TOMRA machinery. Then, at the Fruit Attraction fruit and vegetable trade show in Madrid, I was able to meet some people from TOMRA in person. That is where the idea to buy their machine began to take shape”.
The new Sentinel II installed in the Portuguese factory is used for sorting potatoes, which are provided in bulk by farmers from different countries. After the washing and drying process, the potatoes pass an inspection zone before they are packaged for sale.
As sales director Spain and Portugal for TOMRA Sorting Food Alejandro Palacios Valencia explains: “The ejectors work with high-precision and allow the high-speed ejection of foreign material and bad potatoes.”
Before and after
Before integrating the Sentinel II in their production line, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos performed sorting processes manually. They used four people for this, which ultimately meant dedicating more time and resources to an inefficient sorting process.
Sergio Pinho said: “The Sentinel II allowed us to increase the final quality of the goods with less labour. Our customers are more satisfied and the process in our factory has significantly improved.”
Now, only one worker deals with the machine, while the other three employees have been reassigned to other jobs where they were much more needed.
Alejandro Palacios Valencia says: “with the Sentinel II, we have responded to the customer’s specific need to increase the quality of their product. The sorting machine sorts the potatoes on colour, rejecting potatoes that are green or those with spots or rot. It also detects foreign material such as sticks and stones, eliminating them from the final product offered for sale by Oliveira, which again enhances quality.”
The arrival of the machine to the factory also results in a better division of labour and an increased productivity.
Sergio Pinho says: “The amount of potatoes that we are capable of sorting has increased thanks to the Sentinel II. Now we can inspect 15t/hour of small potatoes and 20t/hour of medium-sized potatoes”.
As well as its efficiency, the Sentinel II is an appealing sorter because it is so easy to operate.
Alejandro Palacios Valencia adds: “The product demonstration with Oliveira Pinho & Filhos at our test centre in Leuven, Belgium, was the fastest in the history of TOMRA. It only lasted ten minutes. As soon as the customer saw how the machine performed on the first test batch, they were convinced. They particularly valued its ease of use.”
It’s simple, robust design and low-maintenance costs are added advantages that were appreciated by Oliveira Pinho & Filhos. Sergio Pinho confirms that the team received training from TOMRA that allowed them “to easily configure the machine for different potato varieties and colours. In addition, the Sentinel II needs little maintenance and thanks to its relatively small size fits very well in our production line.”
Alejandro Palacios Valencia says: “There is a growing trend to implement optical sensor-based technologies in both large and small companies. Our machines undoubtedly allow companies to stand out from their competitors thanks to a significant improvement in the final quality of their product.”
Sergio Pinho adds: “TOMRA has helped us to improve our productivity, we recommend their machines without a doubt”.