Inaba Peanuts Co., Ltd. produces more food types than its name suggests. Founded over a century ago as a maker of rice crackers in 1918, the company has specialized in processing peanuts since 1947. It now also produces snacks such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, chestnuts, Japanese dried plums, almond fish and refried beans. At its four factories in Gifu prefecture in central Japan, the company’s mission is to produce “safe, secure and delicious” food.
Inaba’s almonds and cashews have become so popular that the company has faced two significant challenges. One was the need to increase production to meet demand – but production rates were limited by bottlenecks due to heavy reliance on manual sorting. The other was to achieve less variation in product quality – but again, the traditional method of manually sorting nuts limited the consistency achievable.
Reassured by the TOMRA Food approach
President and CEO of Inaba Peanuts Co., Ltd., Mr. YoIchi Ogura, found solutions to both of these challenges when he attended FOOMA JAPAN, the international food machinery and technology exhibition, in 2017 Visiting the TOMRA Food booth, Mr. Ogura quickly recognized that TOMRA’s industry-leading sorting machines could help Inaba achieve its twin goals: higher production volumes and consistent product quality.
Additionally, TOMRA’s sorters could also help Inaba reduce food waste and improve yields. This is important not only for business efficiency, but also because consumers increasingly expect food producers to adopt sustainable business practices.
Mr. Ogura was also encouraged that TOMRA Food works closely with customers, seeing working relationships as partnerships with shared goals. And he was reassured to learn that TOMRA is willing to demonstrate the capabilities of its machines by running tests with customers’ feed materials, and proving that the results of those tests are repeatable. TOMRA Food engineers also fine-tune machine settings for each food application and production plant to ensure optimum performance.
When TOMRA Food reviewed Inaba Peanuts’ requirements, it was clear that the company needed the TOMRA 5B optical sorting machine. Inaba took delivery of a TOMRA 5B in September 2021 and is delighted with the results.
The sorter offers multiple advantages
Mr. Ogura commented, “Even though we assigned a large number of skilled personnel to our almond and cashew lines to sort out foreign materials and defective products, and even though these people were very good at their jobs , we were not satisfied. with the change in quality. The other problem was that our workforce was aging and the inspection work on the production lines did not appeal to the younger generation. Finding people to do this work became a major problem.
“The TOMRA 5B solved these problems. There is no longer any variation in quality. End product standards are very stable even when the quality of feed materials varies. The machine works faster than people can. We no longer have the difficulty of trying to recruit people to do jobs they don’t want to do. And with its touchscreen, operators appreciate how easy it is to set up and control the TOMRA machine.
TOMRA’s sorter has also brought two other important benefits: it has helped Inaba reduce food waste and helped keep production volumes high. Mr. Ogura said, “Thanks to the way TOMRA engineers respond quickly and remotely to our needs, there has never been a drop in production volumes. And machine downtime is minimal, just for routine maintenance.
The high level capabilities of the TOMRA 5B
The TOMRA 5B is designed to quickly remove unwanted objects from processing lines. The nuts are distributed evenly on the machine’s infeed belt. Foreign objects and product imperfections are detected by 360 degree panoramic cameras on the mat, which see parts of the product that other machines cannot see, and off-mat cameras. By adding a laser to this machine, it is possible to detect and eject over 98% of foreign materials such as plastics. The laser is also very effective in detecting almond shells.
Within milliseconds of inspection, unwanted objects – identified by color and shape – are thrown into one or two separate reject streams by fine-pitch ejection valves positioned at the end of the infeed belt. Good products continue their journey along the processing chain. And thanks to the three-way sorting method, it is possible to sort the products into three categories: to accept as salable product, to reject as unsalable product and to recover for use in processed foods – reducing food waste and improving profitability. .
About TOMRA Food
TOMRA Food designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting machines and integrated post-harvest solutions transforming global food production to maximize food safety and minimize food loss, ensuring that every resource counts. These solutions include advanced grading, sorting, peeling and analysis technology to help companies improve yields, gain operational efficiencies and ensure a safe food supply.
The company has more than 12,800 units installed at growers, packers and food processors around the world for confectionery, fruits, dried fruits, grains and seeds, potatoes, proteins, nuts and vegetables.
TOMRA Food operates centers of excellence, regional offices and manufacturing sites in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.
TOMRA Food is a division of the TOMRA Group. TOMRA was founded in 1972 and began by designing, manufacturing and selling Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) for the automated collection of used beverage containers. Today, TOMRA is leading the resource revolution to transform the way the planet’s resources are obtained, used and repurposed to enable a waste-free world. The company’s other business divisions include TOMRA Recycling, TOMRA Mining and TOMRA Collection.
TOMRA has around 100,000 installations in more than 80 markets worldwide and had total sales of around NOK 10.9 billion in 2021. The group employs around 4,600 people worldwide and is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The company’s headquarters are in Asker, Norway.
For more information about TOMRA, visit www.tomra.com.