PIP Innovations, the manufacturer of D-Blade – a robotic driven produce cutter – announced recently that it partnered with FoodeQ, manufacturer of vibratory shakers, in a strategic move to accelerate its global expansion by offering a tested combination of shakers and robot technology.
The development of PIP Innovations’ robotic cutting machine started five years ago with a request from Netherlands based potato processor Peka Kroef to develop a machine that cuts defects from potato slices while retaining their shape during processing. Peka Kroef is a family business that specialises in fresh chilled potato products and is said to be a global leader in the sector.
With built-in cameras and vision technology, defects are being trimmed during processing from potato tubers by so-called ‘delta robots’ that are equipped with special knives. The quality-enhanced potato slices can then enter the processing flow again. This has proved to provide considerable improvement in final yield and product quality for Peka Kroef.
Jeroen Pannekoek, Managing Director at PIP Innovations says: “This means that significantly fewer potatoes are needed on the input side to produce the same output. That’s pure profit – just with that a processor earns back the cost of the D-Blade technology in no time.”
According to Bart Kroef: “We purchased the D-Blade for upgrading potato slices produced in our processing lines. But we soon started using D-Blade more widely as well, such as for halving and quartering potatoes and for the production of hasselback potato products. That’s why soon a second D -Blade machine was placed next to it, and the third machine is now on its way.”
Says Jeroen Pannekoek: “The D-Blade is extremely versatile but can only achieve its full capacity if the product in-feed is optimal. This automatically puts FoodeQ Engineering in the picture, because they deliver top quality in- and outfeed shakers.”
FoodeQ’s shakers now find their way all over the world and are used in no less than 24 countries.
Jeroen Pannekoek points out that FoodeQ’s quality products, large network of contacts, and the company’s reliable service make it a very interesting partner for to work with. “We reinforce each other and in this way, we can both further increase our market share.”
According to Marinus de Bruijn of FoodeQ: “D-Blade is a ground-breaking enhancement of the machine range for our sector, and our products and services fit in seamlessly.”
A significant part of the modern machine lines at Peka Kroef was developed by FoodeQ Engineering, which planted the seed for the eventual collaboration with PIP Innovations.
The very first D-Blade has been optimized on-site at Peka Kroef over time.
Says Bart Kroef: “We were the first customer and used the machine directly for production because we saw the potential and were able to speed up the innovation this way.”
Jeroen Pannekoek remarks: “We can talk about it all day, but you just have to see the machine work once and then you should be sold on it. We are happy to show interested parties around at Peka Kroef and show them in practice what the D-Blade can do.
“D-Blade has a short payback period and can be converted very quickly. Besides potatoes, the machine can also be used for other products such as carrots. The camera checks where the foliage has been and then it is cut off extremely accurately so that there is much less product loss.
“The machine can also be used to produce baby carrots, with a knife specially designed for the purpose. With D-Blade, PIP Innovations has put a unique product on the market. We have many more ideas, and we will no doubt come up with even more surprising applications and machines in the future.”