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Turn-key project: onion packaging business, Idaho, USA

31 January 2018

Early in 2017, a start was made on the building of a completely new onion-packaging business in the state of Idaho, in the north-western part of the USA. This operation includes storage locations for onions in boxes and a temporary storage facility for products to be packaged, as well as a large processing hall including installations for the processing and packaging of onions.

Four storage facilities have been equipped with the latest QCC 160 compact coolers. Each cell has a capacity of 1,900 tons of boxed onions. The onions are fairly dry when they are taken into storage, unlike the customary practice in the Netherlands. The QCCs are fitted with a hatch so that ventilation with outside air is also possible. All QCCs are controlled by a Vision Control climate computer.

The processing installation has been divided into ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ sections. The first section includes the following operations: unboxing, cleaning and topping of the onions. Because the grading and packaging operation takes place in a separate facility, it is much easier to keep this area clean. The optical grading machine, bunkers, inspection tables, weighing and packaging equipment, as well as the palletising machines, are installed in this clean area. Total hourly feed-in capacity is 50 tons of onions.

This comprehensive turn-key project is unique to the region (North-America), this production line being much more sophisticated than the prevailing practice in the USA. Indeed, the concept of a processing line featuring intermediate storage in bunkers is new to the USA. The fully automated process of weighing, packaging and palletising of the onions also ensures a significant reduction in the amount of labour required.