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A fruity sorting solution

09 April 2017

Kangfa Food, a Chinese canned fruit and vegetable production company, has introduced a variety of measures to control food quality throughout the entire processing chain, starting from the source. 

The first was to develop closer long-term partnerships with local suppliers, setting up longer-term purchasing mechanisms, offering free training sessions on quality strengthening measures and providing free technical support on quality inspection.

A significant hike in productivity for the company was also attributed to its investment in technology innovations. The company wanted to address some specific issues, such as increasing labour costs, raw material quality variations and insufficient production capacity. TOMRA Sorting Food, was seen as the solution to the issues which plagued Kangfa Food at that time. A sensor-based offered a cost-effective alternative to manual sorting, with one sorter capable of solving various challenges that go hand-in-hand with manual labour – notably lower productivity. Consistent quality during manual picking is difficult to guarantee in comparison with an automated solution.

Commenting on the solution, Liu Xincai, CEO of Kangfa Food, said: “We used to own a sorter, but it could no longer cope with the increased volume in our processing lines. Therefore, we decided to look for a solution that could be easily upgraded in line with foreseeable future growth.”

“TOMRA helped us improve the efficiency of our processing line and optimised the sorter’s performance. We also had access to a local service team which provided timely technical support,” said Xincai.

Since installation in June 2016, the Halo sorter has proven itself to be a versatile and highly-efficient sorting solution, sorting peach and apricot slices, wedges and halves. The Halo has also increased operations capacity to an hourly output of seven to eight tonnes – an increase from four to five tons before installation. The sorter has replaced over 70 manual pickers from the peach processing line, which means labour costs have been reduced by 80%, while yield has increased by 30%.

The sorter has effectively improved the quality of the final product, even while the quality of raw material remains variable. This has been achieved by accurately detecting and rejecting pits, pit fragments, blemishes and all types of foreign materials. The sorter categorises the peaches into three streams – good products, secondary products and bad/rejected products – based on the size of the blemish area.

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