One company’s tasty approach to innovation
Imagine a machine which can turn an apple into delicate origami with red and green rimmed ridges that crackle on your tongue. After a few seconds, the crispy chip transforms into a chewy bite with all the freshness of an apple that has just been plucked from the tree. This is not magic, but the latest technology of PloT Tech, a collaborator and customer of Habasit, and a company who has worked for the last three years to perfect the drying process of an apple.

“Our main goal was to remove the oxygen because the oxygen is what gives the product the possibility to breathe,” explains co-founder, Predrag Bajović. “We thought, ‘Ok, let’s dry the apple, but let’s try not to kill the apple.’ The life of fruits and vegetables is in the enzymes, and what we have achieved is to dry the apple without destroying the enzymes.”

In a food industry that is saturated with additives and preservatives, PloT Tech togehter with the first customer and co-investor in this project, All Natural Foods, sought an alternative approach. “We were interested in the idea of self-preservation,” says Bajović. “How could we preserve the apple by using only the apple itself?”

A Palate of success
Every flavorful bite of the sweet and tangy chips confirms the success of PloT Tech’s innovative approach. They have not only crafted and conserved the exceptional taste of a fresh apple, but it is done at no cost to the nutritional value of the final product. Bajović explains that when researchers have tested the body’s ability to extract nutrients from raw versus dehydrated apples, they have actually found that the dried fruit is more advantageous to health. Without any added gluten, GMO ingredients, fat, sugar or preservatives, PloT Tech optimizes the natural nutritive qualities of each product.
When PloT Tech first began the developments for their apple drying machine in 2013, they created a mathematical model and soon realized that the kinematics of the spiral would be the most efficient and effective strategy for the process. This is when they began searching for the safest and most reliable partner to provide the belting system. They considered several conveyor belt companies as suppliers, but Bajović says that Habasit had a strong reputation in the industry, and the representative they contacted showed an eager willingness to help.

PloT Tech is based in Serbia, and the first support came from the local sales representative. Further on in the project Bajović was supported by Habasit engineers, and in the summer of 2015, he was able to visit the Habasit factory in Vienna. There he received face-to-face expertise from the engineers he had already been working with. They continued their fruitful collaboration to create a spiral dryer which could produce the premium apple chips that Bajović had in mind.

The energy efficient atmospheric pressure dryer is equipped with numerous sensors that transmit data to a control unit which constantly monitors the air velocity, temperature, and humidity of each chamber. A CIP automatic washing system was also installed so that the belt would arrive to the filling position clear of sugar residue from the fruit. Bajović worked with engineers to choose a belt that was hygienic and strong while also catering to the crisp and fragile nature of the product.

After his unprecedented success with apples, Bajović plans to continue to work with Habasit in the future. There are already new projects underway and PloT Tech is experimenting with ten to fifteen other kinds of fruits and vegetables which could possibly be dried in a variety of shapes but with similarly delicious results.

“We will continue to work with Habasit,” says Bajović, “because when you mention the brand to your customer, all you hear is good feedback.” Bajović explains that he saw a lot of copies of the Habasit brand, but he decided to go with the real thing because he knew that it was quality that mattered in the long run.

“It is when something must work 24/7 that after five, or six months, or one year, you realize why you needed Habasit. You need something durable.”

Habasit looks forward to future cooperation between the two companies and is happy to keep sampling PloT Tech’s groundbreaking success.

Sonja StrimitzerMarketing

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