Fresh produce processors bring higher level of technology in onion sector
Last Tuesday Dutch fresh produce processors met to bring technology used in the onion sector to a higher level. Because of the enormous fragmentation in the execution of machines and parts, ERC and Qreenno established a standardization process. The goal is to standardize the machines and the installation of the machines and to make them more efficient. The conveyor belt was the machine they focused on in their first session. Everyone knows this product and works with it, and every processor has their own ideas about it.
This session arose from the observation that the onion sector was slowly, but surely, growing. Growing from traditional 'farm company' to industry is not only a matter of buying more (and larger) machines. An industrial company requires an integral approach and a centralized control structure. This is exactly why ERC, Qreenno and the processors believe standardization is crucial for the fresh produce sector. By standardizing machines down to the last detail, entire factories can be controlled much more easily, which results in higher efficiency. In addition, supplies and service costs are minimized, which reduces the final cost per kilogram.
At the start of the meeting, ERC gave a presentation about the conveyor belt, from how it used to be to now. Additionally, a conveyor belt supplier, Ammeraal, gave their insight on the pros and cons of the different belt materials and they gave an update regarding the latest development. It is crucial to act now on what may be important in a few years. What will be the product requirements in five years? Which products will be processed and in what way?
“An industrial company requires an integral approach and a centralized control structure.”
Qreenno & ERC Machinery
Every processor has their own ideas about the perfect conveyor belt. The challenge is to combine all the good ideas and use them to create a great product. Through the use of a LEAN session they tried to get as many useful ideas down on paper as they could. This meant that every sub-component, for example the 'main frame', received their own sheet of paper. Then everyone wrote what they thought the conveyor belt could, or could absolutely not, include.
Practical, useful information came out of this meeting thanks to the cooperation of motivated, technical people with many years experience in the onion sector. ERC and Qreenno will work together with the onion processors to start prototyping and continue development. Optimizing the conveyor belt is in no way the end of this work; it is seen more as the starting point for creating standardized machines for the fresh produce sector.
"OTA wants to work together with the onion sector to develop the right processes for the coming decades, choosing to work with a concerted and integrated approach. This approach is reflected in the integrated design based on individual specialties, the development of existing technologies and taking joint responsibility for the overall performance, control and integration of IT systems and the joint delivery of service and project support. "