The Olivia™ analyser is helping millers to gain maximum value from the olive press. Offering the same reliability as the wel-known OliveScan™ instrument used by official laboratories, Olivia is giving quality olive oil producers Almazara Las Torres new insight into the true value of their raw material and the potential oil remaining in the pomace after the first press.
We are a little late to see the new Olivia analyser in action at the Almazara Las Torres olive mill in Medina del Torres.
Normally, the olives would still be coming in from the fields in the middle of January, but the unusually dry conditions here in this region of Spain to the south of Extremadura has speeded everything up this winter. The journey is well worth the effort though, not only for a break from the Scandinavian climate at FOSS headquarters where Olivia was conceived, but also for the many comments that Fernando Sánchez has about the new instrument and its performance during the recent harvest.
Learn more about Olivia™
“The return on investment is good,” says Sanchez. ”Before a solution like this, I could not control the fat content so well in the pomace and ended up throwing a lot away. But now I can retain that oil and make more money.”
His family-owned company was founded 45 years ago and can mill 100 tons of olives per day during the production season. The oil is extracted by purely mechanical means with no other treatment other than washing, milling, decanting and filtration. While the principle of pressing olives will never change, Sanchez has always been quick to take advantage of technology that can enhance the process and product quality as his new production equipment shows. Likewise, he was pleased to access the power of the near infrared analysis provided by the relatively low-entry cost Olivia instrument when it became available last year.
The instrument is placed on a bench top in a side room to the production. It measures the content of Fat and Moisture in olive paste or pomace within a minute. This information is used for deciding payment for deliveries of olives and how to get the best out of them in the process.
Fernando Sánchez now has much better control over raw material and he can get a virtually instant measurement of fat content remaining after the first press. He explains how he used to rely on a solvent-based analytical system that not only involved chemicals, but that also took about half an hour to get a result. “It was simply not possible to do all the measurements I wanted,” he says. “Now all the chemicals are gone and, with measurements available within a minute, I can see more and react when I need to.”
Despite its traditional image, the olive oil industry is not slow in taking new opportunities such as near infrared analysis.
Technology in hand with tradition
It may seem unusual that a small traditional business is using new technology like near infrared (NIR) analysis, but not according to Fernando who says: “The NIR technology is an important trend in the industry and FOSS technology is leading within this field.” In particular he appreciates the use of the right type of NIR technology by the designers of Olivia. “With the transmittance technology used, the near infrared light can penetrate the whole sample and get all the data required for a good measurement,” he says. “But some other solutions use near infrared reflectance, which is not so effective because the infrared light is reflected off the surface of the sample.”
Laboratory in a box
FOSS has a good reputation for NIR instruments through the OliveScan which was launched about ten years ago and that has become a reference in the industry for rapid testing. For smaller producers like Almazara Las Torres though, the price was prohibitive and the OliveScan is mainly used by larger producers and official laboratories. Now, the Olivia is available offering the same reliability of measurements as with the OliveScan, but at an affordable price and with a rapid return on investment.
Fernando Sánchez used a laboratory to check results from his Olivia instrument against the Soxhlet refererence method and made a few minor adjustments to calibrations supplied. He also sent regular samples for comparison during the critical harvest period. He found that he could count on local help from FOSS customer support in checking and adjusting the calibration and a technician came to start instrument and to give instructions.
“I can always get support from someone in person or via phone or email,” says Sanchez. “This customer service is an important aspect for this product. FOSS is known for precision and service and Olivia has the whole thing. Buying FOSS is also buying service and accuracy.”
Small footprint: Olivia is quick and easy to use and does not take up much space
For everyday use, the interface is very easy to use and intuitive so that measurements can be made quickly by anyone. Fernando can get very reliable information about the olives he buys and he can make better decisions about the production by having more insight into the pomance. “Overall, the Olivia is fundamental for our work,” he concludes. “It is improving my vision in the
production and in the business.”
Almazara Las Torres
Almazara Las Torres is located in a small town of Medina de las Torres in the Extremadura region of Spain. Its olive oil products are recognized for a distinctive quality and are obtained solely by mechanical process.