Engineering Reliability Specialists

Food Processing

Crisp Production Continuous Vibration Monitoring

In the UK we like our crisps, and as a nation we consume about six billion packets a year. Understandably, potato crisps and savoury snacks are big business. In a report published in 2012 the savoury snack market experienced 7.1% growth in 2011, when the UK economy was definitely down, to reach a value of £2.71bn. In another report, also issued in 2012, the UK snack market (of which potato crisps will constitute a large part) will be worth £3.8bn by 2016.

The market is clearly present, and potato crisp and snack producers are aligning their products with an increasingly health-conscious consumer market. One that still likes to snack!

The crisps mass production process is typically as follows. A brushing machine removes dirt from the potatoes which are then transported to a peeler via a flowing water canal. They are then separated by size, with small ones falling directly to a rinser and larger ones cut before rinsing. The potatoes are then sliced in a rotating machine that uses centrifugal force to throw them against sharp blades. NB: depending on the desired slice thickness the average potato will yield between 30 and 40 slices.

The slices are washed in water in a rotating drum for about a minute, and then blow-dried. Next, they are cooked in hot oil for a few minutes and transported by conveyor to beds where flavours are added. Optical inspection then identifies any crisps with dark spots, and the rejects are removed by precision jets of air. The crisps are then packaged.

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