Soon after setting up the business in 2005, ATOP Foods became India's first potato chip and nankeen producer to achieve ISO 2000:2005 certification for food safety management systems. Following years of success in western India, in 2018, this business founded a new company, Bizz Corporation. This business focuses on French fries and specialty products sold under the ChillFill brand name, with ambitions to move into export markets.
With this new need to increase production quantities while maintaining high product quality, Bizz Corporation invested in steam peeling and sorting solutions from TOMRA Food. At its four-hectare site in Morbi city, in the state of Gujarat, this plant processes approximately 120 tons of potatoes and produces 60 tons of French fries daily.
Opportunities demanded change
Bizz Corporation’s production lines have been getting busier by the year. One reason is the company’s good reputation. Another is the popularity of the recently-launched ChillFill brand, because demand is increasing across Asia for products such as French fries. Yet another reason is a crop shortage in Europe in recent years. As a result, the plant in Morbi has witnessed a three-fold increase in demand in just a few years – and expects demand to keep rising in the next few years.
J M Patel, Bizz Corp’s CEO, remembers, “With the launch of ChillFill, we set ourselves the dual targets of increasing production volumes and product variety, as well as achieving consistently high product quality. This meant we had to upgrade our potato peeling and sorting machines. We needed machines with high performance, high efficiency, and high consistency, and we wanted to reduce food waste. We also needed to be confident that our purchased machines would have good technical support.”
While Bizz Corp has strengthened its presence in India, so too has TOMRA Food, the leading manufacturer of grading, sorting, and peeling technologies. Since first arriving in India nine years ago, TOMRA has installed more than 150 units in the country, and in 2019 the company opened a new 4,000-square-foot customer service center in Bengaluru. This facility features a testing and demonstration area, where customers can view a simulation of how products would be sorted and defects identified in their own production environment. This enables customers to be sure they are choosing the best solutions available.
Patel says, “We knew that TOMRA has a great reputation, the in-house engineering capabilities to set up projects, and a long history of designing and manufacturing sorting and peeling machines. We were also reassured by TOMRA’s recent investments to strengthen customer support in India. So naturally, we opened discussions with TOMRA about our challenges and objectives for producing more potato chips and French fries. These talks identified two critical solutions: the Orbit Steam Peeler and the TOMRA 5B sorter. Both were installed at our premises in 2022, when we launched the ChillFill brand, and are running 24/7.”
Efficiencies improved with the TOMRA 5B
The TOMRA 5B is the standard-setting sorting machine for the vegetable, fresh-cut, and potato processing industries. It is ideal for French fries, which must be accurately sorted to size, and for chips (crisps), which can stick together in clusters or get spoiled by wet centers after frying.
Assessing objects on the processing line according to their color and shape, this top-of-the-line belt-sorter detects up to 99% of foreign material and can see French fries from up to six angles. The latest sensor technology combines innovative 360-degree inspection, an off-belt NIR (near-infrared) laser, advanced shape algorithms, and artificial intelligence. The result is the removal of unwanted objects with great accuracy for high-quality targets and high yields.
Bizz Corp particularly likes the TOMRA 5B’s ability to sort to each individual customer’s specification on length and defects. With one of the machine’s easily-programmable control features, Sort-to-Length, French fries meet a predetermined grade without unnecessarily rejecting produce. Another feature, Sort-to-Spec, makes it easy to sort batches into different qualities – for example, AAA-grade and B-grade fries. These features reduce food waste and increase yields.
Efficiency when producing French fries also improves with the Smart Ejection feature. By using de-clustering algorithms, this improves good-in-bad performance by anything from 25% to 100% (depending on cut size, incoming defect levels, and capacity); improves accept-stream quality by making even more accurate decisions on defect types and clusters; and reduces false detection, especially of ‘shorts’ in clusters, to minimize product waste and increase yield.
The TOMRA 5B’s Health Check feature is also appreciated by Bizz Corp’s line operators. This automatically checks the machine’s cleanliness before sorting and identifies which surfaces, if any, need cleaning, reducing downtime and optimizing machine performance.
Patel said, “With this sorter, we are seeing our best-ever results. With 15-20% input defect levels, we are achieving efficiency greater than 95%. The rejection rate with French fries is also very good: just one-in-eight on 10x10 cut sizes, with a capacity of more than 6.5 tons per hour.”
Product losses reduced with Orbit Steam Peeler
Potato peelers vary hugely in efficiency. Food losses can be as high as 30% during mechanical peeling and 20% with low-tech steam peelers. But the best steam peelers, designed and manufactured by TOMRA, reduce food losses to as little as 6.5%.
Best performance is attained by peeling at high steam pressure for a short time, something that low-cost, low-tech steam peelers simply cannot do. However, TOMRA’s Orbit Steam Peeler was developed after extensive testing of steam pressure, exhaust systems, and different vessel shapes. When this peeler was launched in 2000, it brought a step-change to the industry. Today, the Orbit is positioned between TOMRA’s entry-level Odyssey and high-performance ECO peelers. It provides the fast steam supply and exhaust design of the ECO peeler with an optimized pressure vessel design.
Patel said, “With the cost of raw materials, processing efficiency plays a critical role in our profitability. With every little improvement we gain from processing machinery, our investment gives a better return on investment – and we are achieving this with the Orbit Steam Peeler. Processing at a rate of 6,500 kilograms per hour, the Orbit has reduced our food losses during peeling to less than 7.5%. We are very pleased with this.
“We were also impressed by the excellent training support we received from TOMRA, both for the TOMRA 5B and the Orbit Steam Peeler. And now that our machines are running 24/7, we are very satisfied with their reliability and TOMRA’s technical support. Our journey with TOMRA has been great so far and we are sure it will go much further.”
About TOMRA Food
TOMRA Food designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting machines and integrated post-harvest solutions transforming global food production to maximize food safety and minimize food loss, by making sure Every Resource CountsTM.
The company has more than 13,800 units installed at food growers, packers and processors around the world for Confectionery, Fruit, Dried fruit, Grains and Seeds, Potatoes, Proteins, Nuts, and Vegetables.
These solutions include advanced grading, sorting, peeling and analytical technology to help businesses improve returns, gain operational efficiencies, and ensure a safe food supply.
TOMRA Food operates centers of excellence, regional offices and manufacturing locations within the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.
TOMRA Food is a division of TOMRA Group. TOMRA was founded in 1972 that began with the design, manufacturing and sale of reverse vending machines (RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers.
Today, TOMRA is leading the resource revolution to transform how the planet’s resources are obtained, used and reused to enable a world without waste. The company’s other business divisions are TOMRA Recycling and TOMRA Collection.
TOMRA has approximately 105,000 installations in over 100 markets worldwide and had total revenues of about 12 billion NOK in 2022. The Group employs 5,000 globally and is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The company headquarters are in Asker, Norway.
For further information about TOMRA, visit www.tomra.com.