The Evolution of Technology: Potato Chips

Potato chips were accidentally invented by the cook, George Crum, in 1853. Ever since, their popularity has skyrocketed, racking up shelves in nearly any store. Nevertheless, now that there’s so much demand, how do they make it? At around October and November, potatoes are harvested using a six forked machine, with which a large hole is dug. After all the dirt falls out of the fork, a cluster of potatoes remain. These potatoes are washed thoroughly before being packaged and shipped. When the potatoes arrive at the plant, they are examined to ensure the absence of green edges and blemishes.

Once confirmed that the potatoes have passed, the potatoes move along a conveyer belt deeper into the processing factory. After that, the potatoes are loaded into a vertical helical screw conveyer which causes stones to fall to the bottom, while potatoes are pushed the potatoes up to another conveyer belt to the automatic peeling machine. After they have been peeled, the potatoes are washed with cold water. The potatoes pass through a revolving presser that cuts them into slices, 0.072 inches in thickness. The slices are rewashed with cold water that removes the starch released when the potatoes are cut.

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Next, potatoes proceed to the color enhancement stage. To ensure a nice brownish, the potato slices are immersed in a special solution. The slices pass under air jets that remove unnecessary water as they flow into troughs of oil. At the end of the trough, a wire mesh belt pulls out the hot chips. As the chips slide along the mesh conveyer belt, excess oil is drained off and the chips begin to cool.

Then, the chips are conveyed to a packaging machine. In this area, a metal detector checks the chips to ensure that no metal pieces have come with the potatoes or been picked up in the frying process. A computer code on the bag tells the machine how many chips should be released into the bag, which are sealed by heat. Gates open and allow the proper amount of chips to fall into the bag. Ultimately, nitrogen fills the space in the bags to prevent the chips from breaking. The sealed bags are conveyed to a collator and packaged by hand into cartons, before shipping out to stores.

A conveyer belt is extremely vital to this creation. Simply, conveyor belts are very wide “belts” attached in a loop to two or more turning rotors. Rotors are mainly turned by electric motors. Loops (“belts”) consist of two or more layers of rubber, one layer to give a definite shape and structure to the belt, and one to allow it to transport its load safely in one piece. As a rotor turns, the conveyor belt will turn as well due to the intense friction between the rotor and the loop.

This turning motion of the rotor causes one side of the belt to move in one direction, while the other moves in the opposite direction; both rotors must turn in the same direction. Numerous engineers would’ve played a major role in designation of conveyor belts. There are mechanical engineers, who are expected to build and test machines and other mechanical devices. They would’ve come up with the design of the conveyor belt, and the possible role that friction could play. Electrical engineers are in charge of creating all electric components. Thus, the motor, perhaps the most essential part of the conveyor belt that powers the actual turning, would be designed by none other than an electrical engineer.

The electric engineer also paved way for a computer software engineer to contribute to the manufacture of potato chips by creating plugs and outlets to supply current. The software engineer would need to program a computer to control the conveyor belt. If something got jammed in the conveyor belt, or if you simply want to start the belt every morning, that’s why you’ve got computers. Simply type a few words, and press a few buttons, and you can control if the conveyor is on and off, and the speed of the belt. Everyone played a role in creating conveyor belts, and no one deserves more credit than the other. Technology has come a long way, and innovations are becoming more common, even in the food department.

The ostensibly simple topic of potato chips reveals how numerous people aid in the innovation and invention of technology. Technology has changed, and will continue to change, the way we walk, talk, act, and effectively, live.