For vegetable processors, the saying that “knowledge is power” is especially true now that they can use the new TOMRA Insight web-based data platform. By gathering detailed data from sorting machines, this subscription-based service gives processors more knowledge about what’s happening on their lines and the power to make better-informed decisions. This is transforming sorting from an operational process into a strategic management tool.
TOMRA Insight complements, but is not dependent on the co-existence of, SCADA systems. But the two are very different. Whereas SCADA systems provide machine control data and send machine instructions, TOMRA Insight provides food-stream information. This is stored securely in the cloud for use in real-time monitoring and retrospective reports which help improve line efficiencies. And because the data is accessible wherever there’s an internet connection, via web-based desktop and mobile devices, managers can obtain vital statistics without being anywhere near the sorting machines.
Without TOMRA Insight, quality inspections typically have to be made on the line at regular intervals. This usually entails collecting a sample from the material stream, analyzing the sample manually, then recording the findings on an Excel file. By the time this is done, the quality of the material stream could have significantly changed. But with TOMRA Insight there are no such delays. Through real-time data it is possible to see what’s happening on the line minute by minute, and if corrective action is needed it can be taken promptly.
In addition to providing data on incoming defect levels, TOMRA Insight provides plenty of other useful information. Food product statistics also quantify the infeed rate; infeed defect distribution; rework stream defects; and reject stream defects and foreign material. Health Checks display alarms for issues such as overloading, uneven loading, and window dirtiness. Variation Reports spotlight ‘machine errors’ to give early warning of deviations from normal behavior which imply an increased risk of mechanical breakage (for example, if the ejector fingers on one side are doing more work than those on the other). And Production Analysis Statistics measure throughput per minute, per hour, per shift, and per day; distribution of product over the belt; overload and underusage of available capacity; and comparisons between shifts, seasons, and batches from harvesters.
One vegetable processor which conducted an early trial of TOMRA Insight and has now committed to the subscription service is The Jersey Royal Company, the Channel Island-based producer of the internationally-recognized Jersey Royal new potato. Connecting four sorting machines to TOMRA Insight has proven the data platform’s effectiveness. The Jersey Royal Company’s Operations Manager, Andrzej Kopacz, said: “By using the information we’re getting from TOMRA Insight, we are now managing product-quality more precisely to meet customer expectations, improving product control and allocation, seeing where we need to help sorters meet targets, reducing waste, and making better use of the equipment, with less downtime. It’s clear that TOMRA Insight will pay back year after year.”
To maximize benefits, key findings from TOMRA Insight are summarized in regular Service, Production, and Quality Reports. And as part of the subscription service, TOMRA Food’s engineers work closely with customers to review and analyze data on demand. This is leading to reductions in food waste, improvements in product quality, and increases in throughputs and yields. Living proof that knowledge really is power.