Ishida weighing technology has played a key role in enabling French fresh produce specialist Voie Verte to expand and develop its range of fresh cut fruits and fruit salads to meet increasing demand.

Based in the Lyon region, Voie Verte has been growing and selling produce since 1972. In 2012, the company established a fresh-cut operation to offer pre-prepared fruit and vegetables. The success of this venture led to the opening of a new 5,100m2 plant in Les Echets in 2017, which included a large, dedicated area for fresh-cut products.

Helping to maximise production capacity in this new facility has been the installation of three Ishida Fresh Food Weighers (FFW), which were specifically designed to provide a solution to the efficient and accurate weighing of delicate and hard-to-handle fresh sticky and bruise-sensitive products. With demand continuing to grow, the excellent performance of the first 12-head model to be installed persuaded Voie Verte to invest in an additional two 6-head weighers.

Central to the design of the FFW is the distribution system at the top of the weigher, which allows one or two operators to evenly distribute product via belt feeders to the weigh hoppers. This also allows operators to have a final check on product quality before it is weighed into portions.

The FFW’s ergonomic layout makes it easy to spread out products on the feeder table and the belt feeders facilitate a precise and consistent product feed to the hoppers. Scraper hopper gates, ribbed surfaces and scrapers on the collection belt conveyors minimise product sticking. These features help to maximise the speed, accuracy and efficiency of the weighing process.

For Voie Verte the weighers offer several specific advantages. In particular, they have delivered greater efficiencies, ensuring precise and accurate weighing of each portion of fruit with minimal giveaway, while maintaining the quality of the cut fruit. As a result, the company has had to assign fewer operators to the packaging operation for these products.

The weighers are also suitable for short production cycles, as they allow for quick recipe changes using the intuitive remote-control unit on each machine. Hoppers can be easily removed for cleaning, enabling recipes changes to be carried out in around 10 minutes.

In addition, the 12-head model is ideal for fruit mixtures as it can weigh two different fruits simultaneously.

Although capable of much higher speeds, which can be as high as 70 and 35 trays per minute for the 12-head and 6-head models respectively, the weighers at Voie Verte are currently operating at around 20 trays per minute. This lower speed has been specifically chosen to ensure a consistent and smooth operation, especially since other equipment on the line would not be able to keep up with the FFW’s maximum speed.

“Voie Verte has grown since 1972 by adapting to market expectations and consumer trends,” commented José Carrion, the company’s Industrial Director. “To support us, we needed a partner who could provide us with solutions adapted to our growth. We’ve been confident in Ishida’s technology since day one because of its accuracy and reliability.”