food HQ conducted an interview with Steven Hiel, regional sales manager at TOMRA Sorting Food. TOMRA Sorting offers the widest range of food sorting and peeling equipment available in the food industry today. TOMRA supplies optical sorting solutions for a multitude of food applications, for fresh and processed food, from farm to fork! As the global specialist in sensor-based sorting, TOMRA’s sorting technology continues to dynamically drive the development of increasingly better and newer sensors to further enhance our customer’s process. TOMRA’s sensor technology provides the highest efficiency, precision and speed. Not even the smallest particle sizes fall through the detection grid, even though it works much faster than traditional sorting technologies.
foodHQ: Can you brief us on the solutions offered by TOMRA in the food industry?
Steven Hiel: We offer optical sorting technologies in order to guarantee food safety and to make sure that processors make use of the food resources in the most optimal way. Beside that we also offer steam peeling solutions for potatoes, vegetables and fruits. TOMRA Sorting Food’s focus on research and development has enabled us to develop a range of innovative sorting machines which are able to detect and remove the smallest of defects and foreign material from processing lines. We offer the world’s most advanced sensor-based sorting systems, with a broad pallet of technologies, including laser, infrared-spectroscopy, X-ray and camera solutions. Beyond the solutions we offer, TOMRA also offers a broad range of support to our partners in the form of TOMRA Care where experts provide customer support in case of breakdowns, reducing the impact of production stops or interruption due to a defective machine.
foodHQ: What can you tell us about the TOMRA sorting strategy?
Hiel: We are striving to remain the market leader in optical sorting and peeling solutions by investing in the three main drivers that lead to this result. We are innovative in our engineering, we train our sales network, and as a third pillar we invest in further improving our customer service. With more than 10,000 food sorters installed worldwide and a trustworthy support and service network, TOMRA provides a global presence and excellent customer service. When it comes to advanced sorting machines, our technology inspects millions of individual product pieces per hour, typically recovering five to ten percent through higher yields and better utilization. That’s equivalent to approximately 25,000 trucks of potatoes per year.
foodHQ: What are your latest innovations?
Hiel: We are further developing our award-winning Nimbus sorter, which combines different sensors in the same machine such as laser, camera and multispectral technology. This enables us to assemble the right configuration for every sorting equation.
The upgrades include new, user-friendly software, improved Biometric Signature Identification (BSI+) technology, more accurate mini-pitch manifold, and more hygienic accept and reject chutes. New software also further improves the user experience for setting up a product’s biometric signature, making the BSI technology easier to use for operators and requiring less training and resource investment.
foodHQ: What is the best-selling range of equipment in your portfolio?
Hiel: Our Genius belt sorters and our Helius and Nimbus chute sorters are still the best-selling equipment of our portfolio. Our Genius sorter, for which we recently successfully launched our successor, the TOMRA 5B, is mainly used for sorting vegetables, potato products such as chips and French fries, and leafy products. Our Helius and Nimbus sorters are mainly used to sort nuts and dried fruits.
foodHQ: How do you describe your presence in the MENA market?
Hiel: TOMRA continues to invest widely in this region. Last year we opened a new office in Turkey which includes a test and demo center, as well as a service and spare parts center. The Turkish facility enables us to showcase our expertise and innovative approach to sorting produce – including nuts, dried fruit, vegetables, potato products and many more – to new and existing customers from around the region. Our state-of-the-art customer service center also stocks an extensive range of spare parts for sorting systems, ensuring customers’ machines throughout Turkey and the Middle East benefit from even greater levels of service and machine uptime.
foodHQ: What are your upcoming plans and projects in this region?
Hiel: In other markets we see that the food processing industry is growing and evolving, driven by higher customer demands on one side and optimized productivity on the other. As such we are increasing our efforts to be close to the customers, in order to advise them on how TOMRA can assist them to achieve these targets and even to create new standards in the market.