Blowing out the candles on a birthday cake while people sing happy birthday out of…
The German hazelnut processor expects the highest yields in the next few years. The company is well prepared for this day with its first optical sorting machine. While it used to take a full day to process 100 kg of hazelnuts, the company’s technology now enables the processor to sort 800 kg in just two and a half hours. In addition, the company has solved the biggest problem of peel contamination.
The German company, founded in 2013, is a family-owned hazelnut plant run by Martin Stiegler. With six employees, the plant is located in Gonnersdorf near Cadolzburg in Franconia and has nine hectares of land with over 1,000 hazelnut trees, which serve as a popular local tourist attraction. Every year around 40-50 tons of hazelnuts are cleaned, dried, cracked, separated and processed by the company. The farm shop and online shop offer a wide range of products, including palm oil-free nougat spreads, roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut salt and hazelnut oil.
In addition to the strong emphasis on quality, the company is committed to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. In 2017, the company stopped using chemical crop protection and insecticides. A herd of 1,600 chickens roam the processors’ hazelnut fields and consume feed laced with hazelnuts, which in turn has a positive effect on the quality of their eggs. These eggs are then sold to local restaurants and used to make pasta.
Stiegler says: “Before we invested in an optical sorter, we sorted all of our hazelnuts by hand. Thus, the definition of a „good” and „bad” nut becomes subjective when each person sorts the hazelnuts slightly differently. With peel removal in particular, we wanted to be able to deliver a consistent and consistent quality of hazelnuts in order to maintain the high quality standards that reflect our brand. ”
The company conducted trials with various solution providers, including Bühler, for four weeks to evaluate the performance of its processing line. In October 2020, the company invested in the Sortex E1C sorter with BioVision technology.
“With Bühler, we discovered our shared commitment to quality and sustainability. As a small company, we weren’t sure at first that there would be a solution that would meet our needs, but BioVision technology in particular was the perfect solution to our peel removal problem. With regard to the removal of trays, the improvement of efficiency and the taking back of rejects, the first signs are good and we can already say that the investment in Sortex is more than paying off, „said Stiegler.
“If we only handpicked mussels from our hazelnuts, we discovered about 5 to 10 pieces of mussel in a 50 kg bag of hazelnuts during the roasting process. Since installing our Sortex optical sorter, we’ve asked our hand pickers to check a 50kg bag of hazelnuts freshly sorted by the Sortex machine and we can confirm that we haven’t found a single bowl. Approximately 1-3 pieces of shell are now found in 400 kg, ”added Stiegler.
Since investing in Sortex, the company’s hand-picked employees have been reassigned to various other processing steps. With a more even distribution of the workforce, the process of reaching the end product is now much faster than it was before. „Our working day is now much better organized so that we can achieve the highest level of productivity,” said Stiegler.
Greater efficiency and recourse
Before investing in Sortex, the company sorted 100 kg of hazelnuts in one day with the help of two to three hand pickers. “Today we can sort 800 kg in two and a half hours with just one person to set up the sorter and put the product in the machine because we don’t have a conveyor system. For us, this is an outstanding improvement in efficiency, ”added Stiegler.
Like many hazelnut processors, the company cracks its hazelnuts in-house. During this process, depending on the calibration, fabricators can often find their nuts breaking into pieces or halves. These fragments are usually presorted with air pressure, but because they are the same weight as the unwanted shell fragments, it is difficult to distinguish between them. As a result, there is a risk that the hazelnut pieces will be accidentally thrown away.
“With the optical Sortex sorter and its simultaneous resort functionality, we have the option of sorting our rejects again without losing valuable nuts. This also enables us to adhere to food safety standards and get the most out of our hazelnuts for maximum profits, ”added Stiegler.
The yield of a hazelnut tree increases with age and reaches its peak at around 12 years: the company expects the highest yield in the next few years. “As soon as our hazelnut trees have reached their 12th birthday, we expect to process over 60 to 80 tons per year. Then we can run higher cities through the Sortex sorter and see its real potential, ”said Stiegler.
Regarding the company’s relationship with the brand, Stiegler said: „We believe in Bühler’s complete solution for hazelnut processing so that they will remain a close ally as we continue to expand our business and product portfolio.”