By carolemetcalfe

Advanced Equipment Control from Tong

As part of a continuous commitment to provide the most efficient and technically advanced handling equipment to growers and packers in the UK and worldwide, Tong Engineering has announced a host of new control features on its latest grading equipment.

Tong Engineering has launched the new Auto-Touch HMI Pro-Series controls as options on all its latest equipment, to bring a level of control and system intelligence to the vegetable handling industry that would more commonly be seen in the aviation and rail industries.

As such, the new controls include a series of modules including a diagnostics module, an enhanced safety module and a maintenance schedule module, that offer advanced system monitoring and reporting.

“We have recently worked on a number of large-scale grading projects throughout the UK and overseas” says Edward Tong, Managing Director at Tong Engineering.

“As these grading projects developed in the design department, our technical engineers identified opportunities for a more intelligent control system that incorporates a number of new and advanced features that make operating the equipment much easier and efficient, ultimately making the whole grading process much more productive.

Our Auto-Touch HMI controls have been an increasingly popular option on our grading lines and Caretaker mobile vegetable grader, featuring fine adjustments to machine settings at the touch of a button. With the addition of the new intelligent Pro-Series features, the latest controls are built on next generation hardware and programming, offering very obvious efficiencies” added Edward.

The Pro-Series control modules are available as individual add-on programmes or as a complete package. At entry-level, the new controls include an emergency-stop finder which visually identifies on the touch-screen, the precise location of any emergency-stop which is activated. An intelligent energy efficient power-saving mode also identifies and shuts-off any equipment that is not in use.

The intelligent Diagnostics module provides users with continuous status monitoring, so that it the event of an issue, the exact location is automatically pin-pointed enabling quick and easy problem solving and resetting. Any such issues are shown visually on the touch-screen, allowing users of any level to see exactly where the problem has occurred, for a quick resolution. This feature significantly reduces downtime, removing the guess-work on machine trips and fault-finding.

An Enhanced Safety module means that when any essential maintenance is required, the designated area can be isolated, in a ‘safety-stopped’ condition, so that maintenance can be carried out safely, whilst other parts of the machine can continue to run in a normal operational status. Again, keeping any downtime to an absolute minimum.

In addition to this, a Maintenance Schedule module allows the run-time of any machine component to be recorded in terms of running hours or calendar periods, indicating when any part may need to be maintained or changed, making any scheduled maintenance much more efficient.

The new Pro-Series controls also feature an advanced user module, allowing operators of all levels to access and control equipment based on their level of training. This means users at standard levels are able to see visually, the machine’s status or diagnostics and in many cases rectify and reset any alerts without the need for an engineer.

In addition to the new controls, the latest Tong grading lines can be manufactured to incorporate illuminated box filling beacons when several box fillers are in use, making it much quicker and easier for forklift drivers to see which boxes need to be changed next. Any grading screen changes can also be carried out quickly and safely with Tong’s EasyChange function, allowing screens to be changed mechanically, at the touch of a button, with an electrical winding mechanism.

“Although our grading equipment is built upon years of experience in designing quality grading solutions that allow customers to increase throughput, achieve greater grading flexibility and accuracy and minimise damage, the technical advancements in our control systems really are offering our customers even greater opportunities for saving time and increasing efficiency” explains Edward.

One customer that has taken advantage of the new Auto-Touch Pro-Series controls is the Produce World Group. Katie Stark, Operations Director at Produce World Sutton Bridge says “The enhanced safety system within the machine controls means that the line is exceptionally safe and I’m confident with a large grading line, any work to the line is done safely and efficiently.”