Last June, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos, a family affari dedicated to the trade of bagged potatoes and onions (located in the municipality of Mira, Portugal), purchased a Sentinel II optical food sorter from TOMRA. The machine is equipped with the latest pulsed LED technology for sorting food at a higher speed than earlier models.
The new Sentinel II installed in the Portuguese factory is used for sorting potatoes, which are provided in bulk by farmers from different countries. After the washing and drying process, potatoes pass the inspection zone before they are packaged for sale. Alejandro Palacios Valencia, sales director Spain and Portugal for TOMRA Sorting Food, explains: “The ejectors work with high precision and allow the high-speed ejection of foreign material and bad potatoes.”
Before integrating the Sentinel II in their production line, Oliveira Pinho & Filhos performed this sorting process manually. They used four people for this, which ultimately meant dedicating more time and resources to an inefficient sorting process. Now one worker deals with the machine while the other three employees have been reassigned to other jobs where they were much more needed.
Alejandro Palacios Valencia says: “The sorting machine sorts the potatoes based on color, rejecting green potatoes, or those with spots or rot. It also detects foreign materials such as sticks and stones and eliminates them from the final product offered for sale by Oliveira, which again enhances quality.”
The arrival of the machine to the factory also results in a better division of labor and an increased productivity. “The amount of potatoes that we are capable of sorting has increased thanks to the Sentinel II. Now we can inspect 15 tons/hour of small potatoes and 20 tons/hour of medium-sized potatoes,” says the manager of Oliveira Pinho & Filhos.
The Sentinel II is an appealing sorter also because it is easy to operate. Oliveira Pinho & Filhos appreciate its simple, robust design and low maintenance costs.