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Innovations in Hydrocutting Technology – By Kiremko

Innovations in Hydrocutting Technology – By Kiremko

Julio 24, 2023
Cutting potatoes is one of the primary processes in a potato processing line. There have been some significant developments the last couple of years in the way processors cut their raw material. In certain instances, scientific advancements play a crucial role, while in other scenarios, basic intuition prevails.

Kiremko leads the way to hydro cutting technology of the future by truly understanding each parameter of the cutting process in relation to product quality and efficiency. It is a clean cut between guessing and knowing.

Hydro cutting

Hydro cutters are machines which "shoot" tubers through knife blocks using water pressure. These hydro cutters have the ability to cut large amounts of tubers into perfectly long strips.

The advantages compared to mechanical cutting are that hydro cutters can handle higher volumes of raw material and guarantee the desired longest strips. Switching between different strip and cut sizes is easy and can be done quickly.

However, the strips always need to be cut lengthwise and a hydro cutter is therefore less versatile than a mechanical cutter.

Hydro vs. Mechanical Cutting

A mechanical cutter uses a complex mechanical system to cut the potato in slices, strips, crinkle strips, dices or other shapes. While mechanical cutting offers the advantage of flexibility in shaping various forms, it generally falls short in terms of capacity when compared to hydro cutting. Moreover, it cannot ensure the same level of precision in achieving a consistent strip size as hydro cutting can.

24/7 Production Demands

Many processors have multiple cutting systems installed working simultaneously on the requested product shape to keep up with production demands. With demands growing, the complete installation is designed to work around the clock to meet these capacities. For straight cut strips the heart of the cutting system is the hydro cutting system.

The longest strips, the highest output

The heart of the hydro cutter is the knife block. The knife block has a tunnel-shaped passage with firmly mounted knives that cut potatoes into strips.

This knife block Is mounted into the knife block holder which consists of an alignment tube called a Venturi with a profiled polyurethane lining that inserts the potato lengthways into the knife block. Thanks to the precise aiming capacity of this tube, the tubers are lined up in a way the longest strips can be achieved.
Kiremko Hydrocutters side view

Kiremko Hydrocutters side view

Maximize French Fry Length

The length of the end product is for a large part determined by the way the raw product is cut. To ensure the best possible cut, a solid pre-sorting installation will make the difference to get the longest fries and the least amount of product waste.

Processors gain a lot by making sure that especially the smaller potatoes are sorted correctly. By using multiple hydro cutting systems with different sizes of inlets, the potatoes are transported to the matching size hydro cutter for the longest French fries.

Optimize French Fry Production

Hydro cutting systems are installed all over the world by Kiremko. Sometimes up to six stations are set up in a single French fry line to ensure the highest possible yield and the perfect cutting of potatoes into long French fries. Kiremko configures every cutting line to make sure that it is capable of handling different qualities and sizes of raw product.

Cutting the crap

Research into the most effective hydro cutting set up is never finished. New potato varieties often have a different length-diameter ratio, which means that the cutting properties and the blade passage will have to be adjusted.
Cutting the crap

Cutting the crap

In recent years, research into Pulsed Electric Field treatment, known as PEF, has gained a lot of interest. A PEF-treatment sends an electric shock through the cell membrane of the raw tubers to perforate the cell walls.

This process is also called electroporation. PEF on tubers result in a smoother cut, more flexible strips and a significant positive effect on not only cutting quality but also on drying, frying and freezing.

Maximizing Efficiency: PEF and Waterflow

Beside working with a PEF system, the best results can be achieved by optimization of water flow and speed in the cutting line and making sure that the knives inside the knife blocks are razor sharp and changed before they get blunt. The sharpness of a knife diminishes over time with extended use.

Optimizing Potato Cutting

For Kiremko, finding the best setup has always been part of their research and development. The focus in the last few months has been on optimization of the waterflow.

By using CFD (Computable Fluid Dynamics) software and high speed camera’s, Kiremko calculates the flow speed and substance in different circumstances, with different products and knives.

Research proves that science and common sense play an equal role in finding the right solutions for cutting potatoes. And guarding the cutting system in place adds even more value to the process.

Eric van Oorschot, Innovatie Manager at Kiremko B.V.:
"Kiremko’s innovative approach combines Science, Common sense, and Cutting-edge Technology."
KnifeGuard identifies knife quality

Kiremko’s hydro cutting innovation includes an RFID tag system to monitor knife usage and prevent cutting mistakes. The KnifeGuard system measures lifespan, sharpness, and alignment, eliminating errors and improving product yield. Kiremko offers customized alignment tubes and knife blocks for different cutting sizes and shapes.
KnifeGuard identifies knife quality

KnifeGuard identifies knife quality

Consistent quality and ease of use

Hydro cutting systems such as Kiremko’s QuadraFlow, feature single or double knife block holders with a switcher. The switcher is a special version of the knife holder system. When an active knife block is blocked, caused by any number of unexpected reasons, or when blade sharpness is no longer sufficient, the second knife block with alignment tube automatically takes over. This prevents downtime of the line.

Because the system will indicate in time when the knives inside the hydro cutters need to be changed, there will be no scenario in which the product is damaged by blunt knifes. That makes the system contribute to an excellent end product and also decreases the amount of operators needed to operate the line.

Smart choice: The Switcher

A second very useful feature of the switcher is the automatic change over, based on knife operation hours. The running hours of a hydro cutter are monitored by the KnifeGuard® system. After a certain time the knife is automatically switched. The blunt knife is taken out and can be sharpened. This is important for a consistent cutting quality.

Easy to clean and maintain

The QuadraFlow is a closed system. That means water consumption is kept to a minimum. Although this can be even further reduced with an extra starch separation system. This way the starch and other solid particles present in the cutting water are continuously filtered out.

Cleaning the durable construction of the QuadraFlow is simple and easy to do. Kiremko has minimized the number of mechanical parts. Only stainless steel pumps are used, designed specifically for this purpose. So maintenance time is reduced, as is the use of water and energy.

Quality determination

Kiremko is able to assist in cutting quality management by highly skilled food scientists and special developed laboratory equipment.

Our scientists are able to determine straightness, tapering, roughness and length distribution, indicative for breakage of strips in a scientific, mathematical way, and translate this into objective numbers. This service provides a comparable insight into your cutting process.
Quality determination

Quality determination

Understanding the water flow

In addition to the knife block, the product pump that pumps water through the cutting line that carries the potatoes, is of great importance for an effective cutting process.

The stainless steel VPCK single-vane impeller pump has been developed with the aim of designing and building a pump to achieve the lowest degree of product damage possible. The development was carried out with CFD model analysis.
Understanding the water flow

Understanding the water flow

Data from this analysis helped to create an ideal flow pattern which has been converted into an optimized pump designs. Tests with different designs of pumps, both former Kiremko style pumps and competition brands, have shown that the damage to products carried through the system is the lowest with the VPCK pump.

Revolutionizing French Fry Production: Advanced Water Flow Optimization

Recently Kiremko extensively researched the water flow in peeling and cutting lines of a French fry line. Together with students from the University of Utrecht and Kiremko’s in house CFD engineer, the groundwork was laid for further enhancements of the cutting line.

Foam formation causes products pumps to run more erratically and abates the cutting results. By optimizing the water flow in the cutting system, they are able to lower the air impact on the water, minimizing the formation of foam and the use of antifoam consumption. These studies are all possible due to the increasing possibilities of CFD computable fluid dynamics programs.

Factory of the future

Potato processing factories are becoming more and more automated. Recent factories of more than 30 tons an hour output have less than 10 people working on or around the processing lines. This is a trend that has been in motion for a few years, but the technological advantages that cause big leaps in automation are happening now.
Factory of the future

Factory of the future

Potato processing equipment manufacturers like Kiremko are fully aware that information, or data, is the key to success. We want to be better and we want our customers to be better and the key is accumulating process data and using it to our advantage.

Kiremko’s KnifeGuard and Guard Family Systems

Kiremko has numerous systems that provide data on the potato process and the KnifeGuard is a good example of that. The KnifeGuard, together with the other members of the Guard Family that are installed in different parts of the processing line, support, guard and even control the process equipment and provide valuable data that are used to make the potato process line more efficient, more stable and more profitable.

Adjustments to the peeling, cutting, drying or frying process can be made (semi-) automatically and will for example reduce imperfect cutting (feathering or shattering) and will ensure a perfect end product with the right specifications at the right yield.

Kiremko’s Value-Driven Innovations

All together the units that Kiremko provides for a cutting line are focused on adding as much value for the customer as possible. To keep innovating and offering technology that is cutting edge in the market, researchers at Kiremko keep finding new ways to increase yield, lowering the strain on the environment but also making the process more efficient.