Automation

Produce grower finds magnetic solution

July 8, 2010
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UK-based hydroponic salad produce grower needed a next-generation checkweigher/inspection system to provide safe and accurately weighed produce.


Combined CW3 checkweigher and IQ3 metal detection systems from Loma Systems provide accurate weights and metal contaminant-free produce for Thanet Earth, a UK hydroponic produce supplier. Inset shows GUI-based controls with SPC capabilities for the checkweigher. Source: Loma Systems.
Thanet Earth, part of the Fresca Group, covers a vast 92 hectares (220 acres) of prime farmland in Kent, England and offers unique agricultural methods for growing fresh produce. Fed by dedicated reservoirs, the crops are suspended from 26-ft. ceilings in huge hydroponic rows. No soil is used for growing; the crops are planted in Rockwool and fed with nutrients through the irrigation system.

The aim of this model greenhouse is to bring high-intensity horticulture to the UK. The facility is expected to increase UK salad crop (cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes) production by 15 percent, aiding the British consumer demand for British salad vegetables all year round.

To meet the high demand and tight supply schedules, Thanet Earth required a fast, efficient and reliable checkweigher and metal detection solution. Loma Systems’ CW3 checkweighers and combination CW3 checkweigher/IQ3 metal detection system were chosen after careful evaluation.

According to Chris Whitehead-Collet, Thanet Earth operations director, “Loma had the competitive edge when it came to technical specification and expertise during the supplier evaluation. He continues, “By partnering with Loma Systems, we now have the peace of mind that the equipment is able to withstand our product levels.”

The checkweigher was easily integrated into Thanet Earth’s high-speed lines and, with belt speeds up to 120 m/min., can easily cope with the high throughput of the cucumber, tomato and pepper production lines. The checkweigher withstands tough industrial environments and meets IP69K washdown specifications.

A significant percentage of Thanet Earth’s business is serving major supermarkets. The space-saving checkweigher and metal detector combination satisfied the company’s demanding production schedules. The checkweigher is easy to set up and adapts to a wide range of different products, which is essential for Thanet Earth and its variety of fresh produce. The system reduces downtime and allows the producer to operate at the highest speed while also meeting customers requirements. The checkweigher and metal detector combination machine also includes a performance validation system, automatically prompting the operator to test performance at pre-set intervals according to HACCP standards and producing detailed records of any contaminants found. In addition to this, the metal detection system uses an industry-standard OPC (Microsoft Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control) system, allowing operation managers to easily integrate the equipment into existing factory data-capture networks. Major supermarkets often request these reports to ensure and guarantee quality levels. Due to the checkweigher’s advanced service offering, Thanet Earth is able to provide detailed diagnostic reports. A data-capture system is integral to ensure an accurate quality control regime that can be accessed simply and quickly.

For more information, visit Loma Systems online, 800-872-5662 or +44 (0) 1252 893300.

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