Cheeky Dutch tech grants more life, more pulp to processed mangoes
ZTI Smart Machines' Peeler-de-Cheeker has caught the mango industry's attention from the U.K. to Mexico to Australia.
The Dutch company is in the running as a nominee for the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award (FLIA), which will be announced later this week at the international trade fair in Berlin.
This is not the first time ZTI is participating. The group was among the exclusive bunch of innovators nominated for the award in 2014 with its grape destemming technology, and at the time it already had a mango-cutting machine in the works.
But like trees that produce the fruit, new machinery designed to service the fruit industry takes time to grow and perfect, building on feedback from customers.
"We are in constant contact with different players - processors in the market and also growers in the market - and one of the missing links in processing mango at the moment is a peeler that also de-cheeks in one go," ZTI director Hans Keijzer tells Fresh Fruit Portal.
Sending your mangoes to a peeling machine sounds simple enough, but Keijzer emphasizes the problem then lies in using what are known as de-stoners; a process that often causes damage to the flesh.
"You have to take this slippery ball and put it in a new machine and then the stone is pushed out," Keijzer says.
"We invented a peeler that carried the fruit on the stone, so it’s not on the flesh but the stone...we cut the two cheeks from the stone with driven knives, and that way you improve your shelf life, you don’t hurt the fruit, you don’t bruise the fruit and the stone is kicked out further along the line in the machine."
ZTI can also supply a conveyor belt that gathers the stones and peels so users can also harness their material, whether it be for feeding pigs or extracting oils.
Through the use of different knives and clamp positions that can be adjusted, Keijzer says the Peeler-de-Cheeker is able to adapt to different mango sizes for optimum yield, while also using different settings depending on the variety.
"They machine adjust in how they come together – it’s in a vertical and in a horizontal way, so if the mango is bigger, it’s normally bigger in the whole size of the mango. It's not only higher but it will also be longer.
"These lamps will adjust, and the knives that peel, they will also adjust. They are all on elastosprings which press he knives very softly against the fruit so all is taken care of very gently and you can run different sizes."
The machine currently has the capacity to churn processed fruit from 40 mangoes per minute, but the average is more like 35. For the moment, knife adjustments are for Kent and Keitt mangoes but ZTI is currently working with a company in Australia where mangoes are a bit different.
"I’m working with a company in Australia at the moment that might be our next customer. They have a very nice skin on the mango, so we can go to a level of 1.5mm - very narrow in the mango - to optimize the yield for every type of mango."
Since a prototype of the machine was presented at last year's Fruit Logistica and further tinkering was done, ZTI has made two sales to date with one customer in the U.K. and one in Mexico.
"One [the Mexican customer] is basically a processor who is quite near to the field, so they grow their mangoes and process them, partly in liquid pulp – so they have a line for liquid pulp – and they have a line for IQF, individual quick freezing."