Two of the newest machines within Tong Engineering’s wide range of vegetable handling equipment are proving invaluable in transforming post-harvest operations for Hampshire-based potato grower, Whitewater Potatoes.
Both the company’s mobile cleaning and loading powerhouse; the FieldLoad PRO, and high capacity MonstaFill box filler were launched as part of a suite of new product developments from Tong throughout 2019 and 2020, focussing on streamlining the handling process with the gentlest handling, and maximum efficiency and throughput in mind.
Demanding season 2020
And, during their first demanding season of 2020, both machines have come to the fore in making light work of cleaning and loading crop at very high capacities, reducing manual operations by almost 50% for Whitewater Potatoes in Hook, Hampshire. The established potato company grows 1900 acres of potatoes both on its main farm at Lodge Farm in Hampshire, and on land in Scotland.
With a farm team that plant, manage, harvest and store an impressive 30,000 tonnes of potatoes for the crisp market, Whitewater Potatoes relies on a swift and efficient post-harvest process that allows them to keep up with market demands.
“With the need to process high volumes of potatoes straight from the field, we decided to review our existing operations in order to maximise throughput and minimise labour requirements,” explains Gavin Janaway, Managing Director at Whitewater Potatoes.
“After our initial discussion with Tong, we could see that the EasyClean separator was going to provide the cleaning capabilities we need, and the FieldLoadPRO was the machine for us. After some consideration of the different box filling options, it was clear that the throughput capabilities of the MonstaFill would really take our capacity potential to the next level.”
Crop cleaned directly from trailers from the field
Featuring a high-capacity infeed hopper, the FieldLoadPRO at Whitewater Potatoes gently receives harvested crop directly from trailers from the field before crop is transferred to Tong’s industry leading EasyClean separator and high-speed PU coil unit, which ensures very effective cleaning of crop in all conditions. Crop is then inspected within the machine’s insulated inspection cabin before it is gently transported via the remote-controlled cart elevator to the MonstaFill box filler.
Manufactured to gently and evenly fill 1 ton boxes, the MonstaFill features a 2.5 cubic metre capacity holding hopper at each end of the machine’s main crop conveyor. Whilst the machine can fill boxes to level, the hopper tanks are also fitted with integrated loadcells which allow them to fill to a pre-determined weight ready for discharge into boxes. Once one hopper is full, the conveyor begins to fill the second hopper.
The machine detects when an empty box is presented by the forklift and the hopper discharges crop into the box as it is lowered by the forklift. The process means that the forklift then takes the full box away and returns with an empty box to repeat the process. There is no waiting for the forklift, ensuring a truly continuous box filling process.
More crop processed with less operators
“Before we added the new equipment from Tong, we were operating one grader and two box fillers, with a total of seven operators required. The new FieldLoadPRO and MonstaFill set-up requires a maximum of just four operators and often only requires three. The new Tong system runs with around half as many operators than our existing set-up, and is also capable of processing almost 25% more crop; with capacities of up to 90 tons per hour.
The way in which the MonstaFill operates with fewer forklift movements and a simple ‘full box out, empty box in’ process, really does make a significant difference to how quickly we can process the crop with the new system.”
“The new system at Whitewater Potatoes is performing extremely well,” says Richard Knighton, Sales Manager at Tong Engineering. “The FieldLoad PRO is receiving high volumes of crop straight from the field and providing very effective cleaning and gentle transfer of crop to the MonstaFill. The discharge mechanism of the filler’s holding hoppers means a very even fill of each box, allowing fewer forklift operators to swiftly exchange full boxes for empty ones and achieve a very continuous box filling operation.”
Gavin Janaway: “We’re are very pleased with our new post-harvest system from Tong. The FieldLoad PRO and the MonstaFill have made it very easy for us to process large volumes of crop daily. Tong’s family heritage and reputation for quality design and build made them a natural choice for us. Their latest equipment is very much designed to perform in the most demanding handling situations, and it has certainly made it quicker and easier for us to efficiently process much higher volumes of crop on a daily basis.”
For more information contact Carole Metcalfe at Tong Engineering on 01790 752771 or email [email protected]
Source: Tong Engineering