Keywords: postharvest inspection, impact measurement, automation, robot packing, labelling, fruit damage, fruit packing, kiwifruit packing, apple packing, automated packing, slow packing lines, computer vision, packing robots
Innovations in fruit packing: a slow kiwifruit packing line and a robotic apple packer
We briefly review the published advances which have been made in the fruit packing process and present two innovations; firstly, a novel packing line for kiwifruit and secondly, an automated apple packing system. The underlying principle of the novel packing line is to run it slowly enough that each stage of the packing process can operate optimally while minimising damage to the fruit. Adequate throughput is achieved by designing the packing line around a small footprint. The automated apple packing system comprises computer vision to manage the flow of apples and to orient the apples 'sunny side' up and two custom-built robots capable of packing 3,600 apples per hour. The robots have soft suction cups to hold the apples and the apples are packed with their axes aligned in the tray. The robotic packing system fits on a standard tray conveyor on an existing packing line conveyor and replaces manual packing.