For two years, SCEA HERMANT carefully considered acquiring a new optical sorter to sort and grade potato and onion crops prior to storage. The launch of the new TOMRA 3A convinced Loïc and Alain Hermant to make the investment. After the machine’s first season, they are convinced they made the right decision.
The TOMRA 3A, the most reliable and cost-effective optical sorter for growers, was introduced in autumn 2019 – and by summer 2020, one was working hard at SCEA HERMANT. This civil farming company, located in Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme in northern France, processes 15,000 tons of potatoes and 2,500 tons of onions every year.
The farm at Villers-Bretonneux sows 200 to 240 hectares with potatoes. These are delivered to sheds that also stores the farm’s onions, sugarbeet, wheat, peas, and beans. Annual production amounts to 12,000 tons of tubers, with a dozen different varieties and sizes ranging from 28 to 80 mm.
SCEA HERMANT sells its products in big bags via brokers. Most is destined for packers, then goes to the fresh market for supermarkets. The rest (about 15%) goes to industry and is mainly exported, to Spain, Portugal and Italy, with the domestic market a secondary outlet.
This is a busy farm: located at the entrance of a motorway junction; semi-trailers are parading through the yard to collect the merchandise all year-round.
A reasoned investment
As part of its continuous investment policy, SCEA HERMANT chose the largest model in the TOMRA 3A range, with a belt width of 2.4m. This machine has the highest capacity on the market. The machine was delivered in mid-July 2020 for complete start-up in mid-August. Its assembly and installation in the hangar were handled mostly by the farm’s operating team, with technical support provided by TOMRA.
The TOMRA 3A operated continuously during the two-and-a-half-month potato harvest period, right through to November. The machine was also used to sort onions and sort 2,500 tons of this crop every year eventually.
At the end of the first season, the expected benefit was well and truly proven. The TOMRA 3A has brought total flexibility to production, which can be accurately managed at any time. The machine’s start-up and adjustments were easily mastered by the team, which chooses the program that best matches the soil’s quality (more or less sticky) when it is harvested and the grade to be sorted.
Loïc Hermant confirms: “The machine is simple to use. Three people now know how to use it in our company. Before the arrival of the sorting machine, six seasonal workers were in charge of sorting. Now, only the tasks of machine supervision, over-sorting in certain difficult conditions, and the rolling of the skips require this temporary staff. ” Grégoire Volpoet, TOMRA Food’s Area Sales Manager in France, said: “TOMRA has integrated proven state-of-the-art technologies into the new TOMRA 3A. This machine meets producers’ requirements: high-volume management at high throughput, detection of green potatoes, great robustness, easy use and movement in the storage unit, statistical reports, and treatment without any impact on the tubers.”