ISHIDA’S GENTLE HANDLING HELPS PRESERVE POTATO PERFECTION
The innovative design of the ‘Gentle Slope’ multihead weigher from Ishida Europe has been instrumental in delivering a high-quality packing solution for a range of microwavable potatoes from leading Spanish potato processor, Patatas Meléndez. Based in the municipality of Medina del Campo in the province of Valladolid, Patatas Meléndez’s 24,105m2 facility is one of Europe’s biggest potato production plants. For its gourmet microwavable potatoes, available in both tray and bag formats, the company uses only the finest varieties of small potatoes, which undergo a rigorous sorting and inspection process to ensure selection of the very best product for this premium range. It was therefore essential that the quality of the potatoes be fully maintained during the weighing and packing operation. The two 14-head CCW-RVE-GS multihead weighers from Ishida incorporate gentle slopes, with reduced angles and drop distances throughout the weighers to ease the passage of the potatoes, importantly avoiding any bruising or damage. Potatoes are transferred carefully from the dispersion table to the pool and weigh hoppers. The weigher then calculates in a fraction of a second the combination of weights that most closely meets the required target weight, which is discharged into the pack. Each weigher is dedicated to one pack format, with special distribution systems for the efficient transfer of product from the weigher to the bag or tray. Target weights are 400g for the bags and 325g for the trays, with the Ishida weighers delivering excellent accuracy to within 1%. Speeds are governed by the bagmaker and tray sealer at around 40 packs per minute (ppm) and 25ppm respectively – well within the weighers’ top speed of 60ppm. “We needed an advanced weighing solution to ensure that these premium potatoes retained their quality,” explains Francisco Javier Pérez, Technical Director at Patatas Meléndez. “The Ishida Gentle Slope weighers are able to achieve this without any compromise on speed or accuracy. The weighers are also extremely reliable and easy to set up and operate.” The microwavable potatoes – available in six different varieties for the tray range – provide a delicious and healthy meal accompaniment. Microwaving optimises the cooking process without affecting their taste, nutritional value or appearance. The carefully selected small homogenous varieties are double washed with ozonised water and then undergo further inspection and sorting before being transferred via conveyor to the weigher. The trays are sealed with a double microperforated film that enhances product preservation, while the bags incorporate a safety valve that ensures perfect controlled cooking of the potatoes. Established over 20 years, Patatas Meléndez combines potato growing, based on classic farming tradition and know-how, with cutting-edge technological innovation applied to the potato sorting and washing processes. In its supply of potatoes, the company can guarantee their origin, where they are sown and the way they are grow, to deliver the best product to consumers for their enjoyment.