Frani is a Belgian tomato producer and packer. Initially established as a tomato growing business, Frani has now expanded its activities to trading and packing of cherry tomatoes from other growers as well.

It is also a leading supplier of packed tomatoes to many of Belgium’s supermarket chains.

For a long time, Frani practised manual weighing and packing of cherry tomatoes.

The manual process, however, used to be extremely laborious and during the peak tomato season, around 18 people would be engaged in it for 12 to 16 hours.

This resulted in inaccurate packing weights and product give-away. In order to make the packaging process less labour intensive and more accurate, Frani decided to install an automated process and also introduce the popular ‘shaker’ style trays to pack cherry tomatoes.

“Frani is a Belgium-based tomato producer and packer.”

Although handling of shaker trays in an automated process is difficult, Frani could successfully install the new CCW-RS-214W-S / 30-SS multihead weigher and DACS-W-012 checkweigher in June 2011.

The machinery is devised by Ishida Europe and was imported into Belgium through its sole distribution partner BRN.

BRN further assisted Frani in customising the weighing machines in a way suitable for packing the cherry tomatoes.

Packaging systems used by Frani

The new multihead weigher can accurately pack 62 trays a minute of shaker trays weighing 250g, and 32 rectangular trays a minute weighing one kilogram.

Benefits of Frani’s new tomato packing process

The new automatic packaging line reduced the number of employees from 18 to four and increased the packaging output by 200%, while considerably reducing the product give-away by 6%. Since its start, the machine has been operating at 100% efficiency level.

Processes involved in packaging tomatoes

The tomatoes are manually checked before being fed into the infeed chute of the multihead weigher. The machine automatically weighs the desired quantity of tomatoes.

After passing through the pool and weigh hoppers, the tomatoes are channelled into two lanes and discharged through the chute to a timing hopper placed under the weigher.

The hoppers are lined with bancollan polyurethane material which provides a cushioned surface to avoid bruising of tomatoes.

The hopper discharges the tomatoes one after the other in a controlled manner to avoid blockages. Simultaneously, a tray denester accurately places and positions the desired trays under the weigher for filling.

The filled trays are manually inspected and covered with lids before being loaded on the checkweigher for final check. The DACS-W-012 checkweigher detects and allows only the accurately weighted trays to pass through and rejects the ones which do not meet the specified weight.

Technology incorporated into Frani’s system

The multihead weigher CCW-RS-214W-S/30-SS comes in 14-head and 16-head models. It weighs 500kg and is made of stainless dustproof steel.

It can weigh up to a maximum of 800g of product in a single dump at a speed of 110 weighs a minute, subject to the product’s target weight, size and shape. It is equipped with a TFT colour LCD screen display.

“For a long time, Frani practised manual weighing and packing of cherry tomatoes.”

The self-tuning vibrations system optimises product flow and allows for more number of packs per shift and per kilogram of product.

The hoppers and discharge chutes are easily removable without the use of tools for cleaning purposes. The weighing software enabled in the multihead weigher supports a wide range of user requirements.

The DACS-W-012 checkweigher comes with an integrated remote control unit and printer, reject device in line with the configuration and an optional integrated metal detector.

It weighs 1,200kgs and is equipped with digital signal processing (DSP) and state-of-the-art motor with unique friction belt.

The DSP rapidly processes the signals. A built-in camera stores the image of the product to store and make automatic product settings in future.