A brand new factory on the south coast of the Netherlands proves that innovation in agricultural processing is not a utopia: MSP Onions boasts the largest fully automatic onion processing line in the world. Thanks to Modesta Filters’ smart air technologies, dust is reduced to a minimum. Residual streams are disposed of efficiently and completely dust-free. This leads to minimal downtime and wear and tear on machines, a cleaner product and a comfortable working environment. Modesta was involved in the new factory from the start and could therefore advise a lot on dust management and fire risks. We have talked to Modesta and MSP Onions about the collaboration.
Lindert Moerdijk, sales director at MSP Onions, grew up in the agricultural sector: his father Lijn and uncles Jan and Rinus founded MSP Onions in 1983. They pass on the baton to their sons Lennart, Lindert and Benny. This new generation knew that the old way of working was no longer sufficient. The increasingly stringent requirements for quality and traceability, but also the tight labor market, convinced the Moerdijk family that automation was the future. Therefore, they invested in a fully automatic bulbous plant. The new hall has 16 sorting lines that can process 160 onions per second, a fully automatic storage shed, a packing line that can handle 120 tons per hour, and an advanced track-and-trace system.
Easy choice A production plant like MSP’s onion factory produces a lot of dust and residual currents, so Lindert knew from the start that he was going to pair up with an expert in the field. “We already used a Modesta filter installation for our existing production facility and really liked working with it, so the choice was actually quite easy,” Lindert recalls.
His technical service colleague, Maurice Nieuwenhuijse, adds: “Modesta’s filter systems are robust and suitable for handling lots of dust and onion skins. They are easy to use and require little maintenance. “Another advantage is that Modesta only works with filter sleeves, which have a longer life and durability than cartridge filters.” This is a big plus for me, as I am responsible for maintenance and service, says Maurice.
Dream project Modesta was present from the very first meeting in the design phase of the new factory building, explains Sjoerd van Diepen, technical sales consultant at Modesta. “It is a great advantage to be involved from such an early stage, because dust extraction and handling of residual currents is often underestimated. If we are included only after important decisions about the treatment line have been made, it is much more complicated to come up with solutions. “
In this case, Modesta helped make important design decisions, taking into account factors such as the prevailing wind direction and division. These themes are crucial because, as Sjoerd puts it, “you never win from Mother Nature.” He refers to situations where the wind blows directly towards a front door. “The airflow inside a factory must always go from clean to dirty,” he says. “That way you avoid an imbalance between the areas of reception and packaging.” During the design process, a lot of different setups were reviewed, Lindert explains: “For example, we talked a lot about handling leftovers.” On Modesta’s recommendation, he chose several bunkers that can store soil, tubers and bad bulbs separately.
Active cleaning Modesta ended up delivering a solution in almost every place in the production process: from receipt to packaging. The result is a total of 180,000 m3 / h (105,943 cfm) air technology. A windscreen cleaning system has been installed at the entrance to the pre-varieties. With the electronic sorter, a combination of dust extraction and an overpressure system ensures that the product and the cameras remain clean. Sjoerd explains: “Blowing beams blow off and filter all the loose leaves from the onion. In addition, the overpressure system ensures that dust stays out, so that the camera technology is not affected by dust. ” The remaining dirt from the onion tops ends up in closed scraper conveyors with a total length of not less than 160 meters (525 feet), which leads it to one of the two stationary compactors. This closed method prevents dust and dirt from spreading throughout the factory.
Clean working environment MSP Onions’ plant started running in mid-2020. The two companies are making improvements. “It is normal that the final touches have to be made. For this project, we had no frame of reference,” says Lindert. “Of our original plan, 95% has been a good estimate; the other 5% we still need to adjust a bit. ”
Because MSP Onions is the first onion packer to use automatic cash transport, the two companies discovered that dust extraction is needed there to prevent sensor failure. Sjoerd calls the collaboration openly and directly: “We can tell each other what we see and what can be improved. It always leads to optimization. MSP Onions knows what they want, and I myself have 20 years of experience with onions. ” Diederick adds: “For this collaboration, we all pulled stops in terms of ideas and opportunities, which led to a fantastic end result.”
Meanwhile, MSP Onions has served as a reference for other onion companies considering Modesta’s solutions several times. “Our clean factory floor speaks for itself: as soon as you set foot inside our premises, you can see and feel that here is dust-free and comfortable, despite the large amounts we process every day,” says Lindert. “I’m sure the dust extraction is well controlled. We, as MSP Onions, do not have to worry about it. That’s the most important thing for us.”