With decades of experience in running a major farming operation, the principals of Fremont, MI-based Modern Produce Equipment share a common vantage point with virtually everyone in the onion industry when it comes to automated equipment needs.
That was illustrated perfectly when Mike McKnight, who co-owns the company with Tom Karnemaat, sold an M&P Engineering Onion Peeler earlier this year at the Potato Expo in Las Vegas.
“We had a 20×20 booth, and since we had room, I asked Pamela Nugent, M&P Managing Director, if she wanted to run an onion peeler at the show. We sold a machine right out of the booth,” he said, laughing. “We had a phenomenal show… we had more people than we could talk to.”
Karnemaat and McKnight, who launched the equipment operation at the start of 2016, have made it their business to “provide automated cutting edge equipment and solutions to our customers” with the goal of increasing efficiency and productivity, reducing labor costs and enhancing the appearance of the crop.
The M&P Engineering Onion Peeler, which McKnight said is cutting-edge while at the same time totally mechanical without computerization, fills the bill. The machine, which has been designed in two sizes – large and small – is a leading seller in Europe and manufactured on demand by the British M&P company.
Mike, who lives in the greater Atlanta region, explained to OnionBusiness.com that when Modern Produce was started, it was with the idea “… this peeler would be one of our stand-out pieces.”
Modern Produce Equipment works with Tong Engineering, Marcelissen and Upmann along with M&P, and by combining the technology, the operation can provide a system that handles peeling, bagging, bin tipping, grading, weighing, topping and tailing – “It can do whatever you want it to do,” McKnight said of the system. “You have the machine on the downstream side, and it does everything you want.”
The small peeler is designed for shallots and other specialty onions, and the large peeler can handle 110 onions up to jumbo size per minute. According to information on the company’s web site, http://modernproduceequipment.com, the “The large onion peeler from M&P engineering tops, tails and peels onions of 45mm to 115mm diameter using self adjusting floating knife assemblies over a range of up to 25mm on any one setting. It then slits the onion horizontally from top to tail, the depth of slit is determined by onion quality and grade. The machine finally removes the skin using compressed air providing an end product of optimum appearance.”
The system feathers dry peeling process, automatic pick-up of onions from hopper, continuous operation, variable speed up to 110 onions/minute, low labor requirements, no handling of onions during peeling, no water usage so no waste slurry, no changing parts required when varying onion size.
“For people who need a peeler, this is the machine to get,” Mike said. “it’s all mechanical with an inverter drive and is powered by a single electric motor.”
It’s also simple to clean and maintain, and it’s capable of peeling different sizes and shapes, which translates to fewer culls.
“Right now we have machines being used in Cincinnati, Brownsville, TX, and Vancouver, BC,” Mike said.
And we suspect more will be in use in other places as well.