By carolemetcalfe

Next generation Tong grading line at Produce World

Tong Vegetable Potato Onion grading screens grader

When one of the UK’s largest growers and producers of fresh vegetables, the Produce World Group, decided to invest in a new grading line to improve the efficiency of its grading operations at the company’s Sutton Bridge site, it chose a uniquely designed grading line from Tong Engineering.

“With such a wide range of grading requirements, the obvious solution would be two grading lines, or at least a number of interchanging grading screen modules” explained Nick Woodcock, Sales Manager at Tong Engineering. “However, we wanted to look at Produce World’s brief very specifically, to achieve one grading line that not only required much less space within the Sutton Bridge grading facility, but also kept grading screen changes to an absolute minimum. In doing this, the grading line allows Produce World to increase throughput whilst minimising damage and reducing downtime at all times, particularly during the peak season.”

Vegetable Grading Line

Featuring two Tong heavy duty 160 degree box tippers at the infeed followed by Tong’s proven EasyClean separator feeding onto an inspection area, the grading line consists of a total of fifteen Tong EasyGrade screen grading modules feeding graded crop into four Tong EasyFill twin box fillers and three single box fillers. In line with Produce World’s requirements, the grading line offers accurate grading with throughputs of up to 30 tonnes per hour.

“One of the key considerations with a line consisting of 15 grading screens was the potential impact on the crop as it passes over the screens. Therefore, we carried out extensive impact tests before and after to prove that the new grading system was the most gentle possible. With fined-tuned speed and agitation settings, the new line offers significantly reduced impact, especially when compared to recordings on their old equipment” added Nick.

“We worked very closely with Produce World and as the project developed in the design department, our technical engineers designed an intelligent control system for the grading line that allows fully automatic running of the line whilst incorporating automated and continuous safety, maintenance and efficiency features which have allowed Produce World to significantly improve productivity.

Latest features and control

The grading line incorporates all of Tong’s latest and most advanced control features, making the new line exceptionally user-friendly. From a multi-user Auto-Touch HMI touch screen allowing suitable access and control to all users at all levels and illuminated box filling beacons making it quicker and easier for forklift drivers to see which boxes need changing next. The line also features fully automated grading screen speed and agitation adjustment and an energy efficient power-saving mode that shuts-off equipment that is not in use. Continuous system monitoring provides users with visual status reports so that it the event of an issue, the exact location is automatically pin-pointed for quick and easy diagnosis and problem solving. The latest safety technology within the machine’s control, also enables safe running of parts of the line whilst others are under adjustment or maintenance” says Nick.

Katie Stark, Operations Director at Produce World Sutton Bridge commented “We are dedicated to using innovative processes to provide solutions that meet the needs of our customers. When we set the brief for our new grading facility we were very specific about our requirements and Tong really looked at the brief and put a lot of thought and effort into what we needed.

“The fortress key system within the machine controls means that the line is exceptionally safe and I’m confident with a long grading line of fifteen screens, crop is handled very gently and any work to the line is done safely and efficiently. We wanted to reduce the number of screen changes, increase throughput, minimise damage and downtime, and ensure safety for our operators. The Tong grader has really allowed us to fulfil all of our requirements, we’re getting higher throughputs, and much less damage. We’ve been very pleased with the whole service that Tong has offered, from design to installation and after care” added Katie.