Just this morning, my wife and I were watching a TV show about how potato chips are made (or cooked). Did you know that potatoes actually have sugar content? And it is 80% water? According to the show, the sugar content, when heated gives the potato the crispness that we all so love. And the water? It all goes up as steam when the potato chips are deep fried in sunflower oil.
The potato comes out of the farm, delivered to the plant, where it is first washed through several layers of scrubbing. It’s amazing to see that there’s actually a way to clean up a potato without the touch of a human hand. Once the potato is washed, it is ready to be cut into thin slices. And guess what? another machine does it’s magic. A rotating blade chops off the potato in several directions. I cannot imagine having to manually slice hundreds and thousands of potatoes with just a knife on my hand. Once the potatoes are sliced, they are then fed into a very hot sunflower oil for deep frying. In about 5 minutes, the chips are cooked. They are then set through a series of vibration to segregate the good potato chips from those that are overcooked. A video scans the whole batch and blows the bad potato out of the conveyor. Once, the good potatoes are selected, it is ready for the flavoring. The flavoring is added via a rotating cylindrical drum similar to the way cements are mixed when building roads. Once the chips are flavored, they are ready to be packed into bags and boxes.
At the end of it all, what amazed me was how such an assembly machine gathers these muddy potatoes, washes them, chops them into thin slices, deep fried, then flavored, all with very minimal human intervention needed. It seems like magic.
As a child I have always been fascinated with automated assembly lines like these. To me, when something gets created, genius is unleashed. I wonder how would it feel like to design such an amazing line of machinery. Could it be better than the taste of a delicious and crispy bag of potato chips?