Peeling back the layers: A steamy dive into Potato Peeling Excellence with Eric van Oorschot of Kiremko
- Strata Invicta
- Steam Peeling
- Eric van Oorschot
Clearly, Eric’s passion goes beyond potatoes; it encompasses arable farming in general. However, potatoes have a special place in his heart: “It is not just the love for potatoes, but rather the interest in arable farming as a whole. Still, potatoes are my preferred crop because of their versatility. You can do anything with them, from wallpaper glue to vegetable protein and, of course, Fries! Potatoes are a challenging crop to grow and all over the world you see a lot of problems. The Netherlands leads the world in terms of total potato infrastructure, although that realisation is not always in the minds of the average city dweller.”
The love for potatoes is not only expressed in Eric’s work at Kiremko, but also outside. Together with his brother, he runs an arable farm and they also grow potatoes…:
“Together with my brother, I run an arable farm where we also grow potatoes. I invite everyone to take a look at our website www.vanoorschot.biz to see what we do. It actually feels like I have two jobs. There is considerable overlap between my work at Kiremko and my work on the farm. My knowledge of arable farming is of great value to my work at Kiremko. In addition, my entrepreneurial mindset, which I have developed through running our farm, helps me to approach business challenges from a practical perspective.”
Coming full circle
Eric is known to many in the potato processing industry and his face is often recognised by people working in this sector. After his time at Fri-D’Or, Eric did not stop his career in the potato processing industry. Eric explains how he joined Kiremko: “I joined Kiremko in 1988 at the request of Ton Kamerbeek, the former owner. I worked at Kiremko as a project manager from 1988 to 1999. Later, I looked for work closer to home in Zeeland.”
After working at Kiremko for 11 years, Eric sought work closer to home so he could see his children grow up: “Between 1999 and 2006, I worked in Zeeland at Roem van Yerseke, where I was technical manager for factories in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. After changes and shrinkage in the fishing industry, I stopped working there. At the same time, I received an offer from Kiremko via a request from Bas Bijman to return to Kiremko. My home situation had changed and leading a reorganisation was not exactly enjoyable now. So in 2006, I started back at Kiremko doing the same work I still do to this day.”
Uniformity in spare parts
Eric emphasises that the advantage of uniformity is that spare parts and modifications now have to be properly designed to be interchangeable with older versions of the machines: “We took the toughest requirement for each component and thus designed a machine that is the same everywhere. Only the calculation sheet with the sums to show that the pressure vessel meets the local requirements looks different. The entire series size of pressure vessels of the Strata invicta was set up before even a peeler had been built. This way of thinking and designing also allowed the drive and frequency converter to be completely pre-determined for each peeler size in an intensive collaboration with SEW. For both Kiremko and Titan, this was a new way of thinking, designing in series and not in single pieces. The advantage is that spare parts are identical for each peeler type. Even for modifications, care is now taken to ensure that spare parts are interchangeable with older versions. This requires discipline from the entire design team. Rody de Lang, the ‘product specialist steam peelers’ has been involved in Strata Invicta from the initial design, a hugely committed designer and very disciplined in maintaining this interchangeability.”
We took the toughest requirement for each component and thus designed a machine that is the same everywhere.
Eric discusses future developments in potato peeling: “An interesting area for future innovations is removing the steam peel residue from the potato without using water. Using plastic brushes for steam peel removal may become less suitable in the future due to food safety and environmental concerns, given the plastic contamination.”
“I am researching other techniques to remove a skin layer. You can think for example of laser, which is used to clean old monuments by removing a very thin layer. With this technique, it is possible to remove a very thin layer almost without heat input. This technique is also already used to engrave text on apples, for example.
No heat input means no cooking ring and no discolouration due to heat of the raw product. The removed layer can be very thin. Unfortunately, so far it is still very small areas that can be treated.”
Eric highlights Kiremko’s ongoing commitment to stay ahead of the competition: “Although we cannot always stay ahead, I think we have already achieved almost the best achievable in steam peeling. The focus is now shifting to automatic control of the peelers and increasing uptime. We want to get a good handle on maintenance costs and aim to maximise machine reliability.
“Customers are involved in new innovations through open discussions that involve both knowledge of the machine builder and the needs and trends in the potato industry. This helps in developing new ideas and innovations. The customer appreciates the input of knowledge from the machine builder, understands the dilemmas the machine builder is struggling with and at the same time, the reverse applies and we learn what is on the customer’s mind.” says Eric.
Dry brush machines are used to remove the potato peel after steam peeling.
By offering maximum yields at the shortest cycle time, STRATA Invicta sets a new standard in steam peeling systems.
PeelGuard is an optical measuring and weighing instrument that detects residual peels and the presence of dark, green or black spots.