Petrow invested in a high-tech nerve centre incorporating an X-ray, flame unit, laser, throat metal detector and automatic packing unit. Together, this technology is said to perfect one of the most critical food safety operations – the identification and removal of stones, pits, glass, metal, plastic and other foreign bodies. Such elements can accidentally work their way into the supply chain and sourcing process during harvesting or sun-drying and often slips through upstream inspection processes.
The line for processing dates and other dried fruits was installed in Petrow’s Haverhill production facility in Suffolk, the UK in mid-September. The brief was to twin improved speed and productivity with increased sensitivity and automation to enable Petrow customers to meet ever-more stringent demands from retailers and consumers for quality and food safety.
According to Petrow, the sorting technology forms a quality gold standard, as not all harvesting and processing regimes at the origins go through the same quality and safety procedures. The company goes on to say that its processing line is highly responsive to identifying best quality fruit.
Ian Tatchell, Petrow Food Group managing director, comments, “This complete processing line assures outstanding ease and reliability of operation to throw open more opportunities for customers. Automation maximises production efficiency while advanced quality control offers the safety, quality and throughput to take performance and competitiveness to the highest levels.”
Mark Kirkley, operations director at Petrow Food Group, adds, “The new line has a maximum throughput of 1200 kilos, enabling us to respond quickly to larger volume orders from customers. Automation increases operational efficiency to meet and exceed customer expectations on safety, quality and legality at a time when such concerns are rising across all sectors of the food industry.”
The complete processing line features automatic unblocker and vibrating belts to smooth out clumps of dates or fruit. A macerator meanwhile removes pits before a flame unit rids the fruit of hairs. X-ray technology detects foreign bodies, specifically metal, ceramic and glass, while a throat metal detector optimises higher sensitivity for the processing of bulk products.
Fruit is chopped and passed through a large tumbler, where it is powdered with rice flour to avoid further clumping. The fruit is then sorted to ensure it is the exact size specified by the customer, before the final range of capabilities swings into action, automatically weighing, filling and packaging the fruit in precise volumes according to customer stipulations.
Tatchell concludes, “This technology is the most advanced of its kind, fully justifying the investment. The processing line is highly intuitive and designed to satisfy the most rigorous standards in production, safety and hygiene while its sophistication combines perfect preparation of dried produce but outstanding ease, safety and reliability of operation.”