The Schouten Optical Grader for seed potatoes; Optica CS88!
Schouten Sorting Equipment in Kampen installed a third optical grader in 2016. This Optica CS88 is an 8 lanes machine, with 8 outputs and has a capacity of 12 tons per hour. Appropriate for unwashed, seed potatoes.
Important to separate haulm
After the product has been cleaned of sand, small clods (by a roller conveyor), and then is excluded from haul (by a haulm separator), the produce is transported upwards towards a buffer hopper, where the produce is distributed over the 8 lanes.
Photo of the rejected potatoes in the box on the right:
Result in the box of the misshapen, broken turnips and potatoes with growth cracks. Also, the undersize <25 mm in this case included.
The disadvantage of vibrating channel lanes in comparison to the strings system
Completely new is that Schouten uses a string system for "singulation" of the potatoes. Other optical sorting systems work with vibrating channels. The disadvantage of vibrating channels is the limited capacity while Schouten (and its customers) require a high capacity.
Remove growth cracks, half and misshapen potatoes from the produce
After singulation, the potatoes go under a camera. This measures the height and the width of the tuber in order to determine the square size. On the basis of this data the machine determines where the potato should go off. In addition, the camera also identifies whether the potato has growth cracks, is half, or misshaped. If this is the case, these "waste" potatoes are removed to a separate box. With a phased air blast (multiple nozzles, receivers for minimal damage) the Optica blows then the potato on an underlying cross conveyor. The cameras also distinct clods from potatoes. Because clods may be heavier than these potatoes, the clods are mechanically pressed off at the end of the machine. Potatoes from which the cameras are not sure what size it is because they still move, or are too close to one another, return for a second chance. It's amazing how precise the Optica CS sorts the seed parties.