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    McCain Foods has expanded one of its key plants in South Africa with the addition of three new packing lines, each based around an Ishida R-Series multihead weigher.

    The world’s largest producer of French fries, McCain Foods is also the leading supplier of both frozen vegetables and frozen fries in South Africa, and operates a potato processing plant at Delmas, as well as two vegetable processing facilities – one at Spring and the other at George, in Western Cape. The company’s production is flexible and highly efficient, with Ishida multihead weighers playing an important role in this success.

    Products produced at Delmas include French Fries (ranging in length from 6 to 12cm), Potato Wedges (with or without skin) and Batter Fries (breaded and spiced fries). These are for the South African market, and are supplied to customers such as McDonalds, Mug ‘n’ Bean, Ocean Basket and the Spur Group.

    The extension of the Delmas facility followed McCain’s ongoing research and development of local vegetable varieties, while the company had also upgraded its marketing and production activities. The retail market for McCain’s products has been expanding, but the foodservice sector has shown even greater growth, prompting a requirement for larger production facilities.

    The three new lines are designed to work together to ensure maximum productivity and to meet any likely demand. The weighers are integrated into an infeed system that can make use of just one of them when demand is low, or all three when demand is high. In the latter case, fries from the cold store can be used to supplement the production stream, for a seamless surge in output.

    Currently, each machine is operating well within its potential speed, limited by the downstream system (bagmaker, hand packing into cartons, checkweighing and metal detection), yet delivering 500g plastic bags of fries at 90 bags per minute (bpm), 750g at 85bpm, 1kg at 70bpm, 1.75kg at 55bpm and 2.5kg at 50bpm.

    The new Ishida R-Series weighers offer significant reductions in product giveaway, owing to the unprecedented speed at which they can calculate and check weight combinations. This in turn reflects innovative hardware and software used in the weigher’s processing units. Increased calculation speed also adds to overall efficiency, as the weigher practically never finds it necessary to dump a weighment because it is over- or underweight. Operator intervention is kept to a minimum by an automatic feed control system and by the self-tuning vibratory system which automatically adjusts vibration amplitude to optimise product flow.

    The R-Series weigher’s user interface makes it very simple to bring operators up to speed and enables them to get the best out of the multihead weighers. It has multi-language capabilities (selectable at the touch of a button), offers extensive on-screen help and advice, and works via a high-visibility, full-colour LCD touchscreen.

    McCain Foods worldwide has a long and successful relationship with Ishida which was a key factor behind the company’s decision to choose the R-Series multihead weigher for the expansion programme. At its South Africa operation there were already four Ishida multihead weighers on site at Delmas, with five more at the Spring plant. The equipment’s reliability and outstanding performance over many years, together with the avoidance of spare parts duplication, were considered particularly important in the decision-making process.

    “McCain RSA is very happy with the Ishida machines in both factories,” says Technical Designer Renier De Kock, “and that’s why we stick with them!”