When shopping for the humble carrot, spare a thought for the effort and technology that goes into bringing to market a clean and wholesome looking commodity. Soil and stones have been removed, haulm (stalks) taken off, they have been cleaned and polished, and graded to size—all before packaging.
In Poland, the fruit and vegetable producer, Polfarm, has recently upgraded their facility by installing a washing and processing line capable of handling 40 tonnes of carrot crop per hour. The washing, grading and processing line is custom built in nickel-containing stainless steel. It includes a large hopper cleaner at the in-feed with separators for the effective removal of soil and haulm from carrots prior to the washing process.
The carrot washing line begins with a 40 tonne per hour cyclone de-stoner followed by one of the largest pieces of equipment in the facility; a 12.5 metre long, 15 tonne capacity wet hopper, offering effective soaking of crop prior to washing. The crop is then transferred to two five-metre long stainless steel barrel washers, four polishers and a large hydro-cooler. The latter helps to increase longevity and shelf-life of the vegetables.
Carrots are then graded by diameter by a series of lift roller graders, and also by length with a number of vibrating length graders, before they are transferred for packing.
The aim of the upgrade is to minimise maintenance and labour as well as increase throughput. UK based Tong Engineering, the equipment manufacturer, believe they have achieved this for Polfarm by good design based on 85 years of engineering experience in this industry and their effective use of stainless steel. Neil Martin, Factory Manager at Tong Engineering says, “Experience has shown that Type 304 (UNS S30400) grade stainless steel is ideal for this application, due to its suitability and longevity in demanding vegetable handling process environments such as washing, polishing and de-stoning, where a great deal of water is used.”