Automation is now the magic word for Luxembourg-based seed-potato cooperative Synplants. This year the company inaugurated an ultra-modern storage and grading warehouse, featuring state-ofthe-art machinery , many of which manufactured by Manter.
Upon arrival at the modern premises of Synplants in the Luxembourg town of Eselborn, the first thing you notice is the white warehouse, adorned with the cooperative’s name in bright orange letters. A company-owned weighbridge and two loading stations indicate that a significant amount of seed potatoes leaves these facilities. When entering the well illuminated hall, our suspicion is immediately confirmed. In the hall, which measures 105 by 68 metres and is as big as an official international soccer field, a Manter MD 14XL, coupled with an MBS HS and an SAB HS, are kept operational throughout the cultivating season.
Seed potatoes, an interesting crop
During our tour of the new hall, director Nathalie Lamberty explains that the plateau surrounding Eselborn is home to forty affiliated cultivators, who combined produce approximately 450 hectares worth of seed potatoes for Synplants. By investing in modern premises and state-of-the-art machinery, Lamberty wants to achieve even more growth in terms of farm land and turnover. “The availability of farm land is not an obstacle. Most of the farms in Luxembourg are mixed, and almost all of them face very challenging times financially. Milk is at a premium, as are pigs. The returns on grain are minimal. The result is that farmers have no money to invest. At the same time, seed potatoes are an interesting crop with a healthy sales potential on the international market”, she explains.
Ready to grow
Judging by its modern facilities, the cooperative is all set for growth. Lamberty informs us that with the new development, Synplants will now entirely relocate from Clervaux to Eselborn. The old location in Clervaux, where Manter machines were also used for weighing and packaging, only had a storage capacity of 9,000 tonnes for all members of the cooperative. “The facility there will be closed due to a restructuring of the area and be moved entirely to Eselborn.
Our storage capacity in Eselborn was 8,000 tonnes, to which 9,500 tonnes will now be added”, the director explains. In view of the mandatory nature of the relocation, the cooperative was able to obtain significant grants. It therefore had considerable funds with which to invest, successfully as it turns out. The enormous new warehouse with ten separate storage rooms enables Synplants to store 7,600 crates, each weighing 1,250 kilogrammes. The facility also has an impressive section for grading, weighing, bagging and palletising the seed potatoes. The enormous new warehouse with ten separate storage rooms now enables Synplants to store and package more than 17,000 tonnes of seed potatoes annually.
“After passing an electronic grader, the seed potatoes are again crated. They can then be stored or conveyed directly to the Manter 14XL weigher, which is capable of quickly and accurately filling 50-kilogramme bags as well as 5 kilogramme bags. “Being able to weigh different volumes is important to us, seeing that, in addition to large jute bags, we also deliver a lot of small packaging sizes to small grading size farmers in countries such as Italy”, explains the director. “For us, automation is a must. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a good workforce. Machines such as the MBP HS automatic bag placer in combination with the SAB HS bag sowing machine save us a lot on labour. What we are particularly happy with are the accuracy and speed of the machine. It has a processing capacity of up to nineteen 25-kg bags per minute. Also, both machines are easy to operate. They form a powerful combination with which we deliver securely and orderly packaged seedpotatoes that are also easily palletised. Our high-quality produce can then be efficiently and securely exported”, Lamberty tells us with a big smile.