The firm would not say how much it cost but described the 56 square meter room in Leuven as a ‘significant investment’.
It is now able to test performance of its sorting machines for all individually quick frozen (IQF) products in a true-to life environment.
Installation started in February and took four months for the conditioned room which can accommodate two sorting machines, enabling parallel testing and comparisons.
It features an indirect cooling system, controlled automatic access doors and LED lighting.
Tomra said it did not have a cold room in Leuven before so could not provide the option to perform testing in a real-life circumstance.
Targeting IQF industry
Wim Van Doren, sales application manager, said it is especially targeting all IQF industries.
“To find the best option of sensor combinations for a specific sorting task we offer our customer the possibility to schedule an application test with their own product,” he said.
“By doing this, we simulate a real environment, like the one in our customers’ factories since every customer and every product is different.”
Van Doren said sorting performance and results are affected greatly by the external environment.
“Defrosting, sticking of the product and changing defect conditions are known issues when testing IQF products. Normal operating temperature in IQF production facilities is around five degrees, but we can set our cold room as low as minus two degrees.”
Tomra said it allows customers to see the sorting line in realistic circumstances and capabilities of machines operating in severe conditions.
Should there be a need to test machines in a hot climate, special heaters can warm the room from its standard minus two degrees to sixty degrees.
Other cold room sites
The cold room will be managed by Van Doren’s demo team, but will also be used by departments such as research and development (R&D).
In June 2014 Tomra Sorting Solutions installed the first cold room in its facility in Sacramento, US.
“By installing the first cold room in the USA one year ago we learnt that offering real-life demonstrations is greatly appreciated by all our customers since testing their own product in a real-life environment makes it easier for them to observe and to decide they will be investing in our high-tech sorting equipment,” said Van Doren.
It runs fifteen test and demonstration centers worldwide providing services for the development of sensor-based sorting projects for industries including food and virgin plastics.
Six of fifteen sorting solution centers are focused on food, providing different testing possibilities.