Tong Engineering has announced a new twin-head box filler which is already minimising labour requirements and almost tripling throughput for an established seed potato processor in Tasmania.
Built to combine high capacity and gentle box filling, with reduced forklift movements for maximum efficiency, the new MonstaFill box filler is the latest in a series of new product developments from the industry’s leading manufacturer of vegetable handling equipment. “As a company we are very proud to be unveiling a number of new products for 2019, and the new MonstaFill box filler is the first of two advanced and exceptionally gentle box filling solutions that we are bringing to the market this year,” said Edward Tong, Managing Director at Tong Engineering.
Manufactured to gently and evenly fill 1 or 2 ton boxes, the new filler from Tong is maximising throughput capacity for Cherry Hill Coolstores, based in northern Tasmania. Processing over 15,000 tons of seed potatoes annually, Cherry Hill operate between the seed grower and the main crop grower. “For the potato seed grower we unload, apply fungicides, grade and prepare their seed for certification,” explains Andrew Langmaid of Cherry Hill Coolstores. “For the seed buyers and main crop growers, we store the seed until planting season, and then prepare the potatoes for planting.”
“With the volume of seed coming to Cherry Hill, we needed to upgrade our intake system,” says Andrew. “The new installation from Tong features a very similar set-up, albeit it much higher capacity, more advanced and energy efficient than our previous intake system, but it is the new MonstaFill box fillers that have really taken our capacity potential to the next level. Most notably, the MonstaFill has significantly reduced forklift requirements, which has had a huge effect on how quickly we are processing crop into boxes,” says Andrew. “By taking four forklift movements per ton out of our seed potato unloading process; that’s a staggering 120 less movements for every 30 ton load and a throughput of around 55 tons per hour.”
Featuring a 2.5 or 3.8 cubic metre capacity holding hopper at each end of the machine’s main crop conveyor, suited for 1 or 2 ton boxes respectively, the new MonstaFill gently transfers crop to two rubber-lined holding hoppers. The hopper tanks are fitted with integrated loadcells which allow them to fill to a pre-determined weight ready for discharge into boxes. Once one hopper is full, the conveyor begins to fill the second hopper. The new filler detects when an empty box is presented by the forklift and the hopper discharges crop into the box as it is lowered by the forklift. The process means that the forklift then takes the full box away and returns with an empty box to repeat the process.
“With the simple in and out forklift action, there is no waiting for the forklift, making the filling process much more continuous,” explains Andrew. “Our complete intake system from Tong feeds two MonstaFill box fillers, one for 1 ton boxes and the other for 2 ton boxes, and we are now pretty much guaranteed that when a fully loaded bulker lorry arrives on our site, it will be driving back, unloaded in under an hour,” says Andrew. “A massive improvement from having trucks sitting around for 3 hours waiting to be unloaded.”
“The MonstaFill box fillers are performing extremely well; the discharge mechanism of the holding hoppers means a very even fill of each box, and the integrated weight indicators transfer the data for each box directly into our crop statistics database. This has given us great gains in efficiency and will be a major tool for us keeping our costs down moving forwards.”