Ardo Upgrades Factories with PolarVision Technology
Ardo, which ranks among the world’s largest producers and marketers of frozen vegetable, fruit and herb products, has invested in the latest SORTEX F optical sorters from Bühler – the state-of-the-art SORTEX PolarVision foreign material detection system. In addition, the Ardooie, Belgium-headquartered company has taken advantage of the PolarVision upgrade kit and saved significant costs by retrofitting the advanced technology into its existing SORTEX E sorters.
Ardo has 21 production, packing and distribution sites in nine countries, employing 3,800 people. It generated approximately €1 billion (US $1.13 billion) in sales last year, processing 860,000 tons of high-quality frozen products that are sold to customers in more than 100 countries.
The company’s production facilities are based near fertile agricultural centers in Europe, close to where its carefully selected network of 3,500 growers harvest crops. This helps to ensure that produce is as fresh as possible when entering plants for further processing. Furthermore, all of Ardo’s factories are certified to internationally recognized standards, while complying with strict food safety and HACCP requirements.
“Food safety is hugely important. It’s the cornerstone of our corporate strategy, and we invest in the most advanced technologies to help us achieve this,” said Steven Van Engelandt, Ardo’s group project engineer. “We’ve been using Bühler sorting technology for many years and now have their PolarVision technology on our sorting lines around Europe. In our production facility in Belgium, for instance, we’ve just finished upgrading our SORTEX Es with PolarVision, as we needed to enhance our ability to remove any and all kinds of foreign material (FM).”
Ardo operates the SORTEX F optical sorter fitted, as standard, with SORTEX PolarVision. This specialist detection system from Bühler combines two pioneering proprietary technologies to deliver maximum FM detection.
The company recently installed another two SORTEX Fs at its processing plant in Benimodo, Spain.
“The SORTEX F perfectly meets our quality, safety and hygiene standards. Consumers everywhere are becoming more demanding. Quite rightly they expect high quality and safety from a leading brand such as Ardo,” said Van Engelandt. “We cannot fail in that, if we are to meet that expectation and retain our market position. We must take care of each single detail within our supply chain, which means not only using the right technology, but also choosing the right technology suppliers, who share our vision. We see Bühler as our technology partner.”
He continued: “In our experience, PolarVision technology is one of the best digital-vision technologies when it comes to detecting FM in the industrial frozen vegetables process. It’s a jump forward. We tested all other options, including laser, chlorophyll and translucency, but PolarVision was unsurpassed and it’s becoming standard in all our plants. When we were testing PolarVision, formerly problematic FM such as snails and dark plastic, became visible and were removed, with an increase in yields, due to a more precise detection of defects.”
When asked why Ardo decided to upgrade its SORTEX Es rather than buy new Fs, the group project engineer replied: “The Es were a great investment at the time. They took our quality to the upper levels of the standards required. They remain reliable and by upgrading with PolarVision technology, we could achieve a superior sort similar to the SORTEX F, but for a significantly lower capital investment. And, fitting the PolarVision upgrade kit is unbelievably quick. Within a day or two, our machines are back up and running like new.
“In the future, if old machines need replacing, we’ll go straight for the latest generation SORTEX Fs. We aim to have the most efficient technology to ensure quality and protect consumers from risk posed by FM. Safety remains our key challenge, as for all food processors. This is especially true with frozen products, because consumers perceive this kind of product as almost ready to eat.”
Stefano Bonacina, Bühler’s segment development manager for fruit and vegetables in Europe and CIS, added: “Sourcing the finest local products, investing in the most advanced sorting solutions and upgrading where required ensures that Ardo’s food safety and quality standards remain industry leading. Processors who want to achieve a greater sorting efficiency in terms of FM as well as color defect removal, can choose from the SORTEX F fitted with PolarVision, or if they already have the SORTEX E they can upgrade it.”
The PolarVision upgrade kit has been designed to be installed with minimum disruption and downtime, enabling the removal of notoriously difficult to detect FM, for a fraction of the cost of investing in a new sorter.
Bonacina concluded: “Processors investing in PolarVision not only benefit from a greater level of safety and quality, but also profit from higher yields and fewer consumer complaints.”