The plant was designed with 2 independent feeds connected to a TOMRA 12-channel sizer with SPECTRIM technology.
PROTOFANOUSI FRUIT, also known as PROTO, is a historical leader in Greece and all over Europe, and with a 100-year history, is recognized as one of the largest European kiwi producers, processing over 20,000 tons of processed fruit every year.
This kiwi season, to be welcomed into PROTO’s house with its newest technologies is the ICOELTOMRA duo, which supported the company in a complex process of renewing the entire production line, from feeding to palletizing, with the aim of finding the solution that would sew itself to its needs.
Respond promptly to the requests of challenging customers for the kiwi production line
Customers’ increasingly stringent but heterogeneous demands on the quality of kiwifruit led PROTO to choose to optimize its plants to combine processing speed with the goal, which PROTO always puts first, of preserving the quality of the final product.
“We found ourselves in the position where we needed to upgrade our infrastructure to keep in line with the demands of our customers, offering them the best quality they are used to when they choose PROTO products.“
This is how Nick Pardalis, Quality Ensurance Manager at Protofanousi Fruit SA, commented on the decision to invest in a new fully automated kiwi plant, based on the latest technologies for fruit grading and packaging.
ICOEL-TOMRA technologies to ensure a flexible and delicate system
He goes on to explain, “We decided to package our fruits immediately, working live and having the possibility to precalibrate at the same time. ICOEL and TOMRA gave us the opportunity to use this hybrid packaging system that allows us to meet the multiple demands of consumers and precalibrate the product not required at that time.“
The main objective of the project, therefore, was to ensure a system that is as flexible as it is delicate, but without compromising processing speed; therefore, the plant was designed with 2 independent feeds connected to a TOMRA 12-channel sizer; the dual feed was designed to simultaneously process the portion of product destined for packaging and distribution in the short term and the portion that will go to the pre-calibration process that will be returned to the cold storage to proceed to packaging at a later time, according to market demand.
This solution, in addition to allowing two processes that usually cannot coexist in the same plant, ensures that all the product from the fields is stored, reducing waste.
By taking advantage of SPECTRIM technology for grading fruit as specifically as possible and the versatility of the multipack packing counter, ICOEL’s latest technology, which can adapt quickly to changes in production, the current season is being tackled in the best possible way.
Automation and system integration have enabled further increases in packaging rates, proving to be the winning features to remain competitive in such a demanding, as well as vast, market.
Training as the key to technology
ICOEL has always believed that training of technicians is key to working independently after a plant is commissioned. The training sessions, according to Pardalis, are the very high added value of this collaboration, and he concludes by emphasizing that what made the difference was the training and technical support from ICOEL and TOMRA, which gave PROTO’s technicians full knowledge of the strengths of the new automation so they could make the most of its advantages, opening the door to future collaborations.