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The potato journey of the tipping platform

Behind the scenes at the tipping platform
06 | 06 | 2024

This year — 2023 — 20,000 tons of potatoes will be grown and transported from Bordeaux to Northern Belgium in just a 17-day period. This process continues 24 hours a day. Farm Trans transports the entire load using 950 temperature-controlled trailers and 650 bulk trailers.

 

The journey of the potatoes

The journey from Bordeaux to Belgium takes two days to complete. The potatoes travel this distance in temperature-controlled trailers. The reason for this? To retain the quality of the potatoes and to organise the necessary capacity efficiently. By refrigerating the potatoes, this makes them better resistant to the high temperatures in France and the multi-day journey. The potatoes spoil faster when they are not refrigerated during transportation, and this is prevented thanks to the temperature-controlled trailers.

Even in terms of price, it is advantageous to collect the potatoes from Bordeaux using temperature-controlled trailers. On average, more temperature-controlled trailers drive around Europe than bulk trailers. Furthermore, a temperature-controlled trailer can pick up groupage shipments on the way back to Bordeaux – ensuring that the lorries are chartered efficiently.

 

Behind the scenes

It requires a lot of teamwork to carry out this project. On location at the tipping platform, ten people are already at work, from administrative duties to operations. The planning departments of our Temperature Controlled and Bulk departments also work together to ensure that enough trailers and trucks are on site.

However, there is one problem with the use of temperature-controlled trailers: the potatoes aren’t easy to unload. These trailers don’t have an unloading mechanism, in contrast to conveyor unloaders and walking floors. With the tipping platform, Farm Trans has managed to solve this problem in an innovative way. This year the tipping platform has been embedded, making it easier for lorries to pass through.

 

The tipping platform

As the name suggests, the truck-and-trailer combination is tipped using a platform. The tipping platform works as follows. The lorry reverses onto the platform until around one metre is remaining at the rear. The staff that operates the tipping platform guide the driver, secure the trailer to the platform, and open the doors to the trailer. This is necessary because the platform is very narrow: there are only 20 centimetres of room on both sides of the lorry. The lorry then reverses more, and two plates slide upwards against the rear tyres of the trailer. This is to prevent the trailer from rolling down, an essential safety measure.

And then the unloading begins: the lorry is lifted into the air and tipped at a 45-degree angle. This makes the potatoes roll out of the trailer onto a chute guided by conveyor belts, emerging on an unloading belt. The unloading belts are necessary for the last step: the transportation of the potatoes to the factory. As soon as the temperature-controlled trailer is empty, the platform is returned to the ground, all safety measures are removed, and the empty lorry can be on its way again.

 

After 17 days of constantly loading, transporting, and unloading potatoes, the tipping platform and the entire infrastructure is dismantled again and prepared for the following year. From the end of July onwards, the potato yield of the new harvest in Northern Europe has grown enough again, and this project comes to an end.