This might sound surprising, but seeing a sorting machine demonstration streamed live over the internet, rather than visiting a TOMRA Test and Demonstration Center in person, has some advantages. The need to stage online demonstrations, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, has triggered innovations by TOMRA, which customers really appreciate.
For a start, there’s the time saving, cost-saving, and convenience. Watching an online demonstration entails no travel bills, no hotel bills, and minimal interruption to busy working schedules. Whereas getting to the nearest TOMRA Test and Demonstration Center can sometimes be a bit of a journey, the nearest internet connection and PC screen are rarely far away!
In fact, costs for customers are modest because TOMRA doesn’t charge anything for arranging or running demonstrations. The only real expense for the customer is transporting infeed materials to the demonstration’s location – but this pays back by showing the sorter’s effectiveness with the kind of materials the customer has to deal with.
Another advantage is that different people can watch online demonstrations at other times, and at times convenient for them because TOMRA records the live-streamed pictures. This also means the demonstration can be shown to more people involved in the machine-selection process. Investors, directors, quality managers, engineers – all now have the opportunity to witness the machine in action and see for themselves the precisely quantified results.
But this isn’t a spectator sport. Audience participation is actively encouraged. While the test is running, customers are invited to ask questions, request specific control inputs, and give real-time instructions about what they want to view. One of the five or six cameras filming the demonstration is mobile so that it can serve as the customer’s eyes, looking at whatever the customer chooses to see. It is possible to look closely at produce going down the line and through the sorter, materials reaching the end of the line, and the buttons being pressed on the machine. The streamed images also show, at all times, the control screen.
Sometimes it is necessary to adjust machine settings during a test, as the engineers get to know the exact composition of the infield materials, and the sorting results improve as the test progresses. Always, TOMRA will work closely with the customer beforehand so that machine settings can be fine-tuned for the expected infeed materials. And after every test, the results are precisely quantified in a written report which contains photos and detailed statistics. TOMRA’s sorters are so effective that they have to be seen to be believed!
Naturally, online demonstrations also have disadvantages. Not least, some types of produce cannot be seen as clearly as others in live-streams. Knowing this, TOMRA is realistic when responding to demonstration requests: if produce images are unlikely to be clear enough in an online demonstration, and if it would be better to wait until it’s possible to witness a machine test-run in person, we will say so.
But we will also say this: in fighting the disruptions caused by COVID-19, online demonstrations prove helpful. So helpful, in fact, that even when this pandemic is finally beaten and it is again safe for customers to witness demonstrations in person, online demonstrations will continue as an optional alternative.