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FPJ Staff

BY FPJ STAFF

Friday 17th September 2021, 14:57 London

New Caretaker speeds up spud grading, says grower

Scottish potato grower says custom-built new Caretaker from Tong saves labour and streamlines grading process

New Caretaker speeds up spud grading, says grower

Tong Caretaker 2021

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When East Lothian-based J Haig Hamilton & Sons, decided to upgrade its potato grading operations to ensure the most advanced handling of the company’s valuable 550-acre crop, it chose long-standing manufacturing partner Tong Engineering’s flagship Caretaker mobile grader to increase capacity and capability.

Based near the North Berwick coastline, Haig Hamilton farms a total of 3,500 acres of land, and as well as a high-quality crop of potatoes, the family farming business also farms oilseed rape, winter barley and winter wheat. With the latest equipment advancements including increased automation, upgraded cleaning capabilities, and improved energy efficiency with Tong’s Blue-Inverter all-electric direct drive technology, Haig Hamilton could see that investing in the latest technologies would bring significant savings in labour, time and costs.

“Our old Caretaker from Tong was reaching 11 years old, and whilst it remained very reliable, the new models of the Caretaker have progressed so much,” says Hamilton. “We have been farming for over 30 years and have always dealt with Tong throughout that time. Over the years we have enjoyed a great relationship with both the sales and after-sales team at Tong, and the company’s reliability, manufacturing quality and service back-up has always been fantastic.  When the time came to upgrade our grader, we knew that Tong would deliver the advanced, custom-built solution that we were looking for.”

Featuring a high-capacity infeed hopper, the Caretaker grading system specified for Haig Hamilton incorporates an 8-row model of Tong’s industry leading EasyClean separator, complete with full Auto-Touch HMI control, for unrivalled cleaning and control in all conditions as well as advanced diagnostics. An 2400mm wide Tong EasyGrade screen grading module carefully grades crop before it passes over a 6-Man LED-lit inspection area and is then gently transferred to boxes via Tong’s best-selling Midi EasyFill box filler.

“Our new Caretaker is configured exactly to our specification,” explains Hamilton. “We worked closely with the team at Tong to ensure we had considered every option and detail that Tong offered to take our grading system to the next level. When you are specifying the machine, all the options promise to transform operations and efficiency in a variety of ways and now the machine is in operation I can certainly confirm that they really do.”

“Going from a 4-row cleaner to the 8-row EasyClean means we are now able to double our processing capacity when required, but it’s the automation that is really making all the difference. Being based in Scotland, changeable weather is usually one of our biggest challenges, although this year has been unusually dry, but the Tong Auto-Touch HMI control system is extremely advanced and easy to use; at the touch of a button, all adjustments to the cleaner’s settings are completely automatic. Most notably, the automatic high-speed cleaning function is incredible! We can schedule it to take place at set intervals, or in relatively dry conditions like we have at the moment, we set it to run at the end of each day. Within seconds dirt is removed from the EasyClean and it is ready for the next day’s work.”

Nick Woodcock, Sales Manager at Tong Engineering comments; “Having worked with the Hamilton family for many years we have a real understanding of their dedication to producing crop to the highest standards. Their new Caretaker features our most advanced options, and we have even taken their bespoke configuration a step further by designing some additional, unique features which have truly encompassed their most specific requirements. These features include an electric remote-controlled retractable canopy and an in-built water supply for the EasyClean’s spray bars. They have left no stone unturned in specifying a highly advanced machine for the most efficient handling.”

Hamilton adds; “Tong’s attention to detail in the design and build of every aspect, from the advanced controls to the heavy-duty construction and quality engineering, does not go unnoticed. We are delighted with every feature of our new Caretaker, which has completely streamlined our potato grading process.”   

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