Leading French potato producer Parmentine has equipped its new line in Samazan with two optical sorters from TOMRA Food – one the TOMRA 5A, the other the Sentinel II.
Parmentine processes 180,000 tons of potatoes per year, selling three-quarters of these in France and the remainder in other European nations. By operating an integrated upstream-downstream business model, Parmentine contracts supply from farmers who are mostly shareholders in the business.
The company’s 8,000 square-meter packaging center in Voves prepares and dispatches a wide variety of types and grades of potatoes. Employing 80 people, it is designed and equipped to achieve top product quality by using the most modern sorting and grading technologies. It is the only center in France equipped to wash the potatoes in heated water when they are delivered from the field. In other respects, this plant’s configuration is typical of Parmentine’s other factories, which all enjoy close working relationships with TOMRA and employ Titan II, TOMRA 5A, Sentinel multi-track sorters, and Compac Sizer MLS InVision 9000CIR.
At Voves, two FPS (Field Potato Sorters) are installed at the entrance to the plant to receive unwashed tubers arriving directly from the fields. This first step eliminates foreign materials (such as stones and clods of the earth) and other defects which could otherwise accelerate mechanical wear-and-tear and disrupt production flow on the lines, and could even cause machine breakages and stoppages. After this, the tubers pass down two lines equipped with Titan II optical sorters. These eliminate all products with defects – any potatoes that are green, cut, or rotten. All potatoes are examined individually, refining the quality of the product flow. The potatoes move at high speed along the belts and through the sorting machines, but the machines are designed to ensure this is done smoothly without any bruising to the product, preserving the potatoes’ appearance and shelf-life.
Next, a final passage is made on another multi-track sorting machine. This detects the smallest defects and directs the potatoes, according to their size, to the packaging line or into palloxes in the storage area. This last step ensures the consistent product quality and grading demanded by retailers and consumers. The Compac technology allows not only blemish sorting (external quality) of the products but also grading of the tubers according to different parameters (such as size, shape, volume, length, color). This enables the operator to select tubers according to different criteria and direct them to different treatments before storage and packaging.