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Ishida helps top olive processor gear up production

07 March 2012

An Ishida RS series multihead weigher incorporating a custom-designed distribution system is delivering excellent accuracy to within 0.1g and effective product handling to help one of France’s leading suppliers of olives maximise market opportunities

Croc’frais and Arômatt are sister companies which select, process and package some of France’s most popular brands of olives. Croc’frais is the premium brand and Arômatt supplies mid-range and economy products, with annual output topping 1,500 tonnes. The companies source olives in brine from Morocco, Greece and Spain. After desalination overnight, the olives are blanched if necessary. Premium products may then have spices, herbs or oil added before being sent for packing.

With existing organic growth and the prospect of large retailers expanding their own-brand offerings, Croc’frais and Arômatt were seeking to increase production capability, and Ishida France was asked to install a weighing system which could readily handle all types of olives, delivering accurate weighments at speed to a thermoformer.

The selected ten-head Ishida RS Series model features large 3-litre hoppers. The weigher incorporates the latest combination calculation software that enables it to achieve weighing speeds, accuracies and consistencies that most top-range competitive weighers are unable to exceed. The RS technology can make more weight combinations available during each weigh cycle, meaning that the weigher will seldom if ever need to select a weight outside the specified range. This helps to guarantee - within small margins - the same weight of product in each pack.

Product comes to the shop floor in stainless steel wheeled bins which are hoisted to the top of the multihead on a lift and then emptied via a funnel onto an infeed conveyor that delivers it to the dispersion table of the weigher. The product delivery system is fully synchronised with the thermoformer, meaning it can be readily paused in the event of a line stoppage.

Once on the weigher the product is moved along by the Ishida AFD vibratory feeder system. Alerted by a loadcell sensor under the dispersion table, this system automatically adjusts its level of vibration to suit the product flow, reducing the need for operator intervention whatever the degree of oiliness or stickiness of the product.

Ishida has also installed a custom-designed distribution system beneath the weigher to deliver the high-accuracy weighments into the thermoformer, depositing each weighment so as to avoid any contamination of the seal area by liquids or product debris. This system includes timing hoppers equipped with scraper gates, which ensure that the entire contents are transferred at the appropriate moment, preserving fill accuracy. It can fill single or twin trays, two at a time.

Factory manager Stéphane Varlet reports that 120g trays of olives are produced “with the very precise weight of plus or minus 0.1g”. As a result product giveaway is practically eliminated.

The packing line fills and seals 50 retail trays of 120g target weight each minute. With the less sticky products, 60 packs per minute can be achieved.

The companies are also pleased with the versatility of the line which can handle all the different products specified. It can even be readily adapted to fill 1kg catering packs.

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