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A customised packing line solution for French fries from Ishida Europe and its distributor BRN has improved throughput at Belgian-based potato processor Agristo’s new factory in Tilburg.

The Ishida/BRN solution handles the packing process from the outfeed of the freezing tunnel to the infeed of product to bag makers.

It incorporates six of Ishida’s CCW-R series weighers, handling pack sizes from 450g to 2.5kg at speeds of up to 100 bags per minute for the 450g pack.

For Agristo – which specialises in frozen and pre-fried French fries – it was imperative that responsibilities were clearly defined among a small number of key suppliers, and BRN was selected to handle the packaging requirements alongside three other main suppliers for the building, the processing area and automation.

From the freezing tunnel, the French fries progress onto an integrated weigh belt, which monitors line capacity.

In order to regulate any fluctuations in the production and packing process and to ensure a regular feed of product to the weighers, any excess of product is held in a special Fifo buffer to be fed back into the packing line at the appropriate time.

Product is also checked to remove any substandard items (such as black spots) and then sorted into the correct ratio of short- and long-length fries.

Excessive shorter-length fries are diverted for subsequent packing on a line dedicated to this product.

The Ishida weighers are CCW-R-214W-S/50-WP models, featuring a hygienic waterproof construction designed for frozen-food applications.

A key challenge of the installation was to keep the upper and lower packing areas separate to simplify the hose-down cleaning of the weighers while preventing water ingress into the dry packing area below.

In addition, the cross feeders feature a 0.5m3 buffer capacity to regulate product flow to the weighers.

The R-Series weighers use advanced hardware and software to calculate and check weight combinations at high speeds, leading to reductions in product giveaway.

Increased calculation speed also adds to the overall efficiency as the weigher rarely finds it necessary to dump a weighment because it is overweight or underweight.

Operator intervention is kept to a minimum by an automatic feed control system and by the self-tuning vibratory system, which automatically adjusts vibration amplitude to optimise product flow.

Part of the fries can be fed offline either to be mixed with a processed product or packed separately as finished product.

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