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The air is clean!

Potatoes – our strength since 1890. This is the slogan that potato company Tolls uses on its homepage. This owner-managed family business located at Willich, processes exclusively unwashed potatoes. To prevent dust problems, Theo Tolls has invested in a dust filter system and has had good experiences with it.

“We are in the middle of a potato growing area with intensive potato cultivation, more than 90% of the cultivated land is irrigable, and this enables us to guarantee deliveries in terms of quality and quantity,” says Theo Tolls, pointing out the special advantages of the region. His traditional company, which supplies seed-, consumer- and processing potatoes, is based in the triangle formed by the cities of Düsseldorf, Krefeld and Mönchengladbach. The 54-year-old entrepreneur has been in the potato business for more than 30 years and has continuously expanded the company that he took over from his father in 1991. Meanwhile, about 60,000 tonnes of potatoes are sold annually, half of which are consumer potatoes and the other half are processed into fries or chips.

Our core business is trading in loose goods

At its site in Willich, the company has storage space for around 8,000 tonnes of potatoes in cold stores. Tolls’ customers are mainly specialist packers who supply supermarkets and the chip and fries industry with potatoes all year round. “Our core business is trading in loose goods” explains the entrepreneur, adding that bagging unwashed potatoes is one segment of the portfolio. This sorting and packaging plant was fitted with a dust collection system from Dutch manufacturer Jongejans Luchttechniek in 2018.” Due to the soil around the potatoes, dust is always a major problem for machines and processing areas” says Tolls.

The decision to invest in an extraction system was mainly done to to create a healthier working environment and to improve the quality of the workplaces for the employees working on the sorting and packaging belts. A brush system is integrated in the sorting and packaging line, which also contributes to spreading of dust. Encapsulating the brush system with dust tents helps to prevent dust from spreading. “At all drop points of the system there are extraction points, which extract the air contaminated with dust particles,” explains Tolls.

The sorting and packaging line is equipped with a total of ten extraction points. The power of the extraction system (max. approx. 18.5 kW, frequency controlled) is set to provide sufficient underpressure at these ten extraction points. The extraction capacity is approximately 17,600 m3/hour. The dust extraction consists of a powerful fan and filters that are cleaned fully automatically with compressed air. The filtered air returns to the room clean and the heat thus remains in the hall; the extracted dust falls into a container below the filter unit. “We opted for a filter system with an air return function here to be more independent of the weather,” explains Tolls.

A clean factory is a high priority

For Theo Tol, the advantages of the extraction and filter system are obvious. Besides the higher quality of the working environment and the added value for the machines, he also mentions the positive effect on the company’s overall image. He is convinced that a clean, tidy business environment is essential for the good name of the entire company.

The good experiences with the system were the reason for him to invest in another extraction system in the adjacent hall.

Here, there is a hopper and dust extraction takes place where the boxes are filled. “This hall has a much larger volume, so we have chosen a simpler version of the extraction system here,” explains Tolls. Here, the extracted air is not led back into the hall but is discharged as clean air after passing through the filter that collects the dust particles  and leaves it in filter bags.

Not connected to the filter system is the sorting line, which is also located in this hall and which was technically upgraded and expanded last year with an electronic sorting system. Defects and other waste are carefully sorted out there. Here, dust is bound through the use of sprinkler heads.

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