Supreme award for Norfolk machinery firm

A Norfolk engineering company has won one of the country's top machinery innovation awards at a silver jubilee show.CTM Harpley Engineering won the supreme innovation award at the 25th Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers' Association show against more than 400 entries.

A Norfolk engineering company has won one of the country's top machinery innovation awards at a silver jubilee show.

CTM Harpley Engineering won the supreme innovation award at the 25th Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers' Association show against more than 400 entries.

The family-run company, which was founded by Charles Thomas Mountain in 1950, won the best innovation in electronic product for the Censor system.

Built at Harpley, near King's Lynn, the Censor detects and removes foreign matter from potato lines, potentially saving packhouses many thousands of pounds in litigation.


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It is designed to remove foreign objects that have passed previous checks but could have extensive applications in other packing and processing areas of industry.

The "stand alone" unit was originally designed for positioning at the end of a potato grading line. It has "intelligent" sensors or "fingers," which are programmed to recognise and remove foreign objects that have passed previous checks.

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Aimed at growers supplying potatoes to processing factories or packhouses, it offers peace of mind by cutting the risk of foreign objects such as stones, glass or metal being shipped with the produce.

A short in-feed belt spreads the crop over six channels, which are fitted with sensors. These are actually 'intelligent bars' each with its own microprocessor, which uses "real time signal analysis" to measure the varying density of the material passing over it.

Any foreign body such as a plastic cap or piece of wood which hits one of the bars will trigger a signal.

This opens a compressed air valve and raises a flap, blocking the suspect object, which drops to a reject conveyor before the flap quickly returns to its closed position.

In the meantime potatoes cascade across the sensors at an adjustable rate of 20 to 50 tonnes per hour.

The company's founder, CT Mountain built his first sugar beet cleaner loader in 1950, and the business has expanded into other harvesting areas. It is now run by other members of the family.

It has added to the range of market-leading cleaner loaders with a sugar beet harvester and self-propelled cleaner loader from ROPA of Germany.

It has always been CTM's objective to minimise tare levels of soil, stones, clods and trash from the beet crop before despatch to the factory, thus reducing the environmental impact of unnecessary road haulage and subsequent waste disposal.

Tony Lighton, chairman of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers' Association (LAMMA), said that the first show was staged at the Lincolnshire Showground in February 1982.

"As the reputation of the LAMMA Show grew, it was expanded.

"This eventually led to the show out-growing the facilities at the Lincolnshire showground and it moved to the Newark showground for the 1998 event," said Mr Lighton.

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