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During the last half century, development of electronic and computerized control has had a very positive influence on productivity.  Computer numerical control (CNC) on machine tools is a good illustration of the use of this technology.  A modern CNC machine tool is more productive and more accurate than most manually operated machine tools.  There is, however a trade off.  The useful life of a manually operated machine tool is often much longer than its CNC counterpart.  In 1995, Gem Equipment purchased its first CNC machine tool, a vertical machining center that was manufactured in 1985.  This machine tool milled a large variety of parts from carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel and Stellite before it was retired.  An obsolete and malfunctioning computerized control system triggered its recent retirement.  For comparison in the late 1990’s, this company was using a manual lathe that had its 100th birthday in1996
Like the old lathe, the rock trap manufactured by this company under license from Flodin, Inc. does just fine without a computer or electronic control.  This device depends on specific gravity and water flow to separate rocks from raw product.  If the product sinks, the Flodin rock trap can also remove floating debris.  Basically the rock trap is a large flume with a wire mesh belt running its full length. This belt runs along the bottom to the middle, then slopes up to the discharge end where the rocks exit.  A pump and necessary piping circulate water to move the product through the infeed half of the rock trap and out through a discharge port in the middle.  Rocks sink landing on the belt and are conveyed up to and out of the discharge end of the unit.  The information above describes  operation of the rock trap with product that floats.

If the product sinks, a conveyor can be added to remove floating debris.  This conveyor starts in the middle of the rock trap with an underwater tail pulley, slopes up, out of the water, to a knee then conveys to its discharge end located above the discharge of the rock removal conveyor.  A pump tank catches the water returning from the rock trap, supplies water to the pump and stores the water when the rock trap is not operating.  A scavenger reel is included to remove solids from the water returning to the pump tank from the rock trap tank.  A recent improvement involves the use of a rectangular pump tank which fits underneath the rock trap.  Previous units used a vertical round pump tank that was located off to the side of the rock trap.  The new configuration saves space and simplifies installation.  It should be noted that the water circulation system includes valves that must be properly adjusted to assure optimum rock trap operation.

In addition to the Flodin rock trap, Gem Equipment manufactures a variety of conveyors, even flow bins and hydro pump systems for raw product handling.  While most of this equipment has been developed working with french fry potato processors, Gem is starting to  work with fresh potato packing operations.  One company objective for 2015 is to develop business with more potato fresh pack operations.  This is one reason two salesmen were added last year.  Gem also manufactures operating platforms, catwalks and support structure and is capable of designing integrated systems combining these items with the equipment.  This company provides engineering, manufacturing and installation of processing equipment designed for specific applications for the food and beverage industry.