Harrogate International Centre, home to this year’s British Potato Event, had plenty to see for businesses needing to upgrade their packhouse lines and make the decision whether to accommodate increasing labour costs, or spend money on more sophisticated equipment. Howard Walsh reports.
Tong Engineering showed a new data capture system designed for use with its EasyFill box filler.
Aimed at larger growers and packhouses, the system reads a bar-code on each box and assigns a host of data to that particular box, in addition to its weight.
This, says the firm’s Carole Metcalfe, can include the identification of the grower, the field in which the crop was grown, grade size, variety, date and time the box was filled etc, and was essentially enhancing traceability and improving stock control.
Data is automatically sent to the stock database and obviates the need for any manual recording. It is being offered as an option on the firm’s existing weighing platforms.
Want to be able to monitor and control your potato store remotely by smartphone, tablet or computer – and be kept informed by means of alarms?
Gimingham, Norfolk based Crop Systems were showing its new £3,500 SmartStor which enables the store owner to select the criteria to be monitored and controlled remotely.
The user also programmes the system to e-mail any required data at pre-determined times or display it ‘on demand’. Data is downloadable in text and graph format for customers and farm assurance. If contract-storing, other crop owners can have access via a multi-level password protected log-in.
An additional feature can trigger an alarm to phones, tablets etc if a lone worker enters the store (arrival registered by approved swipe-card programmed into the system) and then fails to leave after an expected or set time (exit also registered by swipe-card).
Alarms are also activated in response to power cuts, lights left on, equipment faults or temperature changes. A further feature is a two-way information ‘diary’ on which comments from either the remote user, or person in attendance at the store, are recorded and available.
Dutch manufacturer Manter, whose equipment is handled in the UK by Wisbech based Agrimech, introduced its new MD20 weigher at the show, a high capacity, 20-head computer-controlled weigher.
With its 20 ‘dosing’ buckets, it can feed up to four baggers at a time and is claimed to be capable of up to 100 accurately weighed and recorded drops per minute. The price is approximately £90,000 in the UK depending on exchange rate.
Agrimech itself was demonstrating its latest Nemesis bag placer which speeds up the job of feeding potato sacks to the weigher/stitcher. All an operator has to do is make sure the bag magazines are refilled with empty sacks as required.
Cost is approximately £24,000 retail.
A further development of its existing vibrating-feed weigher was Danish manufacturer NewTec’s belt-feed, 10-head weigher, the 4010XXB, for unwashed products such as potatoes, and designed to weigh big portions at high speed.
NewTec, with its UK base at Spalding, also had a new model in its Checkpoint range to automatically check that packaged products comply with pre-defined weight requirements.
Combining electronic and visual inspection, it can detect and reject loose items on the belt. The ultimate aim, with the incorporation of visual inspection and electronic weighing is to ensure overweight, underweight or damaged packages do not reach the bulk packing station.
Pacepacker’s latest Collator system caters for customers who require pre-packed polybags of produce, from 1 to 5kg, to be supplied within larger paper, plastic, or hessian bags and nets.
The firm says the latest GT1000 has the capacity to collate and pack up to 1,000 outer sacks per hour depending on the capacity of the rest of the system within which it was working, and on the produce handled.
Woodbridge, Suffolk based Bye Engineering claims its new BE Wonder Wheel is the only piece of kit to intercept and direct rain and irrigation water within the wheelings left after planting, to where it is of benefit.
Claimed to reduce run-off and soil erosion, in so doing, the firm says it reduces the loss of surface-applied fertilisers and other agrochemicals.
Rear-linkage mounted, and with the wheel-mounting arms set to the appropriate row or bed width, two chamfered moulding wheels on each arm, oppose each other to create a consolidated, roof-shape ridge. Lugs around the circumference of each wheel generate ‘heaps and hollows’ along the ridge to catch and dam running water in small quantities.
Leading tines on the implement create a route for water to follow, and secondary tines produce the loose soil for moulding.
The implement costs about £9,000.
Customer feedback persuaded Ely based Standen Engineering it needed to offer a tipping hopper on the recently launched Zeno potato planter series which was first unveiled at the Cereals event.
Design engineer Michael Gammon, says some users feel a tipping hopper is more gentle on the seed and should alleviate any bridging tendencies.
The tipping hopper brings the price of the two-row version, the Zenon 21, to abpout £35,000. But Mr Gammon says other refinements are on the way, including steering axles for those who need it to cope with slopling ground, plus sensor activation of the hydraulic tipping, currently under driver control.
Standen were also showing a version of its Standen Pearson Powavator with optional fast change blade system.
The ‘Rapid-Pin’ system allows each blade to be changed in a few seconds simply by removing the securing pin without any special tools, with the company claiming the system is an improvement on some competitor designs.
The ‘fast change’ rotor features hard metal bolt-on side plates, designed to lengthen life of the rotor shaft, which, says Standen is now available for retro-fitting to existing Powavators.