11 December 1998

Auto top and tailing…

MACHINES are faster and produce a more consistent finish than hand labour, maintains Nicholson Machinery. The companys latest product could be the death knell for the gangs of women employed to top and tail root crops destined for supermarket shelves.

The Top-Tail machine has been designed to remove tops and tails from crops such as onions, radishes and red beet, with low levels of damage.

In operation, as the roots or bulbs pass down a 10cm (2.5in) wide x 1.5m (5ft) long bed their tops and root hairs are trapped between the leading edges of spiralled prism rollers, contra rotating against smooth faced rollers.

Alternate spirals run to the left and right to ensure the crop traverses across the conveyor as produce passes down its length.

This action, says Nicholson, gives maximum movement of the crop in all directions, ensuring both top and tail are presented to the cutting edges before passing off the bed.

Both roller and spiral speed are independently variable and output is claimed to be in the region of 4.5t-5t/hr.