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Idaho Steel and Kiremko, the 'Go to Guys' for Efficient Potato Flake Production

The latest megadrum, produced by Idaho Steel, has a guaranteed capacity of 1,250 kg per hour and can - depending on the dry matter content of the potatoes used - even deliver up to 1,500 kg per hour.

Flake production is not only a potato process for specialists. More and more potato processors see it as an ideal solution for their sustainability improvement. Because potato byproduct from, for example, the French fry line - think of "slivers" and "nubbins" - can be processed with a production line for flakes into an end product with value.

More than 100 years and 250 drums of experience

Kiremko and Idaho Steel, as strategic partners, have now placed more than 200 "drum dryers" around the world. These drums are the heart of the flake line, a heated round "drum" on which the mash potato is dried. With this rich experience, Idaho Steel and Kiremko are able to offer the most effective and high-capacity flake process in the world.

Exceeded expectations

In recent years, Idaho Steel and Kiremko have installed a large project in Germany. A flake process line with four drums, good for a requested capacity of 4000 kg per hour. It was agreed with the client that a bonus would be provided if the production line was structurally able to exceed this requested capacity.

It is now clear that, after the first 6 months of production, the requested capacity is being exceeded. With more than 20%! The line has been optimally adjusted so that the average steam consumption has decreased significantly. Unfortunately, the figures may not be made public.

Nice addition

Recently, the strategic partners have also delivered two flake projects in Belgium. In both cases, it concerns French fry producers who have had the flake lines installed as a welcome addition to their product range. The Corona crisis in particular made their choice explainable: The potato price fell to an unprecedented level, while the freezer rooms were full. Solution?

Making flakes. Idaho Steel and Kiremko were able to respond energetically. Both flake drums were installed within nine months. They are now running at full speed.

Market leader of the century

Idaho Steel has been around for over a century. In those years they have built up an impressive portfolio on flake drums. More than 200 drums have now been installed worldwide. But an important development has been set in motion for a number of years. The new drums have been built in a new way.

The major advantages of this are better heat conduction, (as a result) lower steam consumption and a larger efficient surface. All new factors contribute to a higher return and a better end product. What started all those years ago as “an addition to the range” has grown into an absolute specialty, resulting in worldwide market leadership.

The “Go to Guys” in Idaho

Davis Christensen, director of Idaho Steel:

"In North America, we've been the go-to guys when you want to produce flakes since the second half of the last century. And that market has grown enormously since then. Firstly, because you make a potato product with flakes that exceeds the shelf life of other potato products."

"Second, because potato flakes are used in more and more products, such as instant mash, crisps, flour, snacks and all kinds of binding agent applications. The world of “convenience” in the kitchen, the easy-to-prepare meals, all these developments have contributed to the growth of flake production."
Zero waste as a starting point

Idaho Steel and Kiremko supply a complete range of potato product lines. From fries to hash browns and from fresh products to flakes. This offer provides for potato processing where raw material loss is kept to a minimum. Potato producers are less and less satisfied with waste that can ultimately only be processed into animal feed or fertilizer.

Everything from the potato must be used. Together, Idaho Steel and Kiremko are not only able to offer a solution for all product groups, but above all, find an integrated solution for the zero-waste challenge that producers want to approach.

An impressive sight

Anyone who has ever stood next to a modern flake drum cannot help but be impressed.

Sander Hoek, Kiremko's project manager:
 
"Yes, that first time is impressive. But you also get used to it. I have been involved in the installation of six drum dryers over the years. And despite getting used to it, I still think it is great to see that such a large machine can produce such a delicate product.”

“It really is a profession in its own right, in which a versatile flow of raw material - off cuts, potatoes that are too small, etc. - must lead to one consistent end product. It's great that we master that process like no other."
Total cost of ownership

The high effectiveness of Kiremko and Idaho Steel drum dryers allows customers to benefit from a low total cost of purchase, operation and maintenance. The construction of the drum dryers is aimed to have the lowest possible steam consumption. Hygiene and safety also played an important role in the development of the machines.

The production line in front of the drum dryers is also included in this. Everything is based on optimal economy and ergonomics. The controls of the drum and the “front line” are linked to each other, so that the interplay of cooking, cooling and mashing is precisely tuned to the optimal “load” of the drum.

Don't boast with kilos per hour

Idaho Steel introduced the first stainless steel drum dryer in 1993 and a super drum dryer in 1995. This hygienic machine was an instant hit and the market responded positively. Larger more productive drums followed in the following decades, with increasing global demand. The latest megadrum, produced by Idaho Steel, has a guaranteed capacity of 1,250 kg per hour and can - depending on the dry matter content of the potatoes used - even deliver up to 1,500 kg per hour.

Davis Christensen:
 
"But we don't use that as a sales argument, because in practice we often have to work with potatoes with a sub-optimal dry matter content. We also do not have to boast with those numbers, because the effectiveness of our drum dryers is also proven by the steam consumption."
Pride due

Both partners Idaho Steel and Kiremko are now installing flake lines all over the world. The United States, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia.

Kiremko director Marcel van Huissteden:
 
"And we are currently processing an application for Africa. Then we will have all continents complete again. Because we don't count Antarctica, no potatoes grow there. Our unique collaboration enables us to make customers all over the world successful in producing flakes.”

“We have been successfully joining forces for almost 25 years, which has meanwhile yielded us a convincing market share and we are proud of that."

Flakes as insurance

And he continues, saying that recent projects show the great interest in our drum dryers, partly as a result of the global Covid crisis. But flake production will become an indispensable part of versatile potato processing after the pandemic. This is obvious for the specialists, but it may be new for the French fry producers.

A flake line as an “insurance policy” for difficult times. So that no potatoes are lost, or to respond more flexibly to the market price of the raw material. Finally, the sustainability assessment will also play an increasingly important role, the zero-waste idea is also permanent. In short, the production of potato flakes is a business case that will stand the test of time.

This article was first published by Potato Business and is reproduced on PotatoPro with permission

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