SmarTOUCH - Bin Filler - Fruit Packing System
From novel transport tubes, to innovative dry bin fillers, to next generation scanning and sorting, the industry is ready to transform how packing plants are designed and operated. Over the past few years, we have elicited significant feedback from the tree fruit industry (i.e., packing houses, growers and industry associations) that identified large unfilled gaps between industry requirements/desires and available packing house solutions. These gaps, found in most commodities (i.e., apples, pears, stone fruit, citrus, pomegranates, etc.), are primarily associated with deficiencies in fruit handling, throughput and excessive labor costs.
Although manufactured by many different regional and global companies, the majority of packing house technology is quite similar in performance and cost. Additionally, most packing line technology has not changed significantly over the past 30 years. A considerable opportunity now exists to deploy new products and processes and achieve significant increases in productivity and quality. For example, a 'cost effective' grading and defect sorting solution combined with improved dry bin filling could enable the deployment of a dry pre-sort capability on existing commit-to-pack lines.
By combining proven, best-of-class solutions & services with the development of leading edge products, the quality and productivity of packing house operations is enabled. Do you Whooshh?.
TrueSort is the name for Ellips’ basic software, a much-vaunted system which has succeeded in establishing a proven track record worldwide. TrueSort comes with a unique algorithm for the products you are grading. We are proud to be associated with Ellips' TruePort scanning products in North America.
- Vision sort up to 24 lanes at a time
- Sorting speeds of up to 25 cups/second per lane on the large fruit systems and 35 cups/second on the small fruit systems
- Grades on all sizing planes including length, diameter and curvature to accuracies of .02' on larger fruits and .02mm on smaller fruits
- Grades on color by averages, percentages or pixel counts in increments of 1%
- Grades on quality including defects, blemishes, scratches, mold and more (currently only available on large fruit systems)
- Can grade on weight
- Grades the total surface area of the fruit
- Includes a user friendly interface for easy sorting parameter adjustments
- Sorting software communicates in 'real-time' with the cameras, sensors and system actuators
- Software can be controlled from multiple remote computers in your office or facility (simultaneously if required)
- Service and support can be administered remotely via the internet
- System is tracking and traceability software ready
SmarTOUCH Bin Filler
The packing house industry has been seeking an improved dry bin filler solution for many years and a number of different products have been delivered to the market. However, feedback continues to suggest that the current generation of dry bin filler solutions, referred to as roto-fillers, is deficient in both handling characteristics (i.e., too much fruit damage) and throughput (i.e., too few bins filled per hour). The roto-filler performance has typically relegated dry bin fillers for use with processor apples while fresh market fruit has had to rely on 'wet' bin filling processes or hand labor.
GentleFiller helps bridge this well-known gap by delivering bin filling speed and fruit handling performance that is superior to existing alternatives. With this type of performance, GentleFiller can be used for more fresh market applications while also enabling the deployment of more dry (vs. wet) handling processes. In fact, GentleFiller can help enable a 'dry' pre-size capability that is crucial to the deployment of 'hybrid' pre-size/commit-to-pack lines. To facilitate these new applications/processes, we have designed the solution to improve bin filling speed by over 50% and to reduce shrinkage significantly when compared to existing technology. For apples, this means up to 23 bins per hour of 'target' fruit with less than 1% damage - even for sensitive varieties.
GentleFiller achieves these results by leveraging a design that operates much differently than currently available rotary bin fill products. The GentleFiller solution utilizes a vertical filling head that gently layers the fruit into the bin while existing solutions rely on a rotary filling process. In addition to decreasing fruit damage, GentleFiller enables higher bin filling speeds and better edge to edge filling of the bin. GentleFiller minimizes fruit damage by decreasing individual fruit arrival speed and alleviating the trauma caused by 'rolling' fruit. Even on the most sensitive fruit, bruise assessments have shown very good results compared with other bin filler mechanisms currently utilized in packing houses.
The Whooshh transport tube relies on a unique design and pressure differentials to gently and rapidly move fruit of various shapes and sizes from point A to point B (e.g., from a sizer drop to a remote bag or bin filler). With no transitions or hard corners, the Whooshh tube's handling characteristics are far superior to traditional conveyors and even the most sensitive fruit can be transported with much less bruising.
Whooshh's characteristics (i.e., flexible, lightweight, vertical transport capabilities, etc.) provide the packing plant with increased design and layout flexibility. For example, vertical fruit transport enables new handling processes that dramatically improve space utilization. This increased utilization provides an opportunity to decrease the packing house footprint thus saving significant capital investment and overhead. Whooshh tubes also provide a more efficient way to transport fruit to baggers, bin fillers, and other devices that need not be adjacent to the main packing line.
This type of layout better utilizes the packing house floor, reduces blockage caused by 'fixed' conveyors, and decreases pedestrian/forklift conflict. Transport tubes can also be located near sorting/packing tables so mis-routed fruit is placed in the tube and reinserted onto the packing line.
Operational performance and flexibility are also greatly enhanced. Adding incremental fruit transport 'routes' or changing existing routes to dynamically address daily orders. For example, a transport tube can be added to move fruit from a sizer drop to a bagger and then quickly switched from the bagger to a bin filler.
'Dry' Pre-Sort Enabled
A traditional commit-to-pack line enhanced with a 'dry' pre-sort capability provides many of the benefits of a traditional 'wet' pre-size line without the capital and operating expense associated with a stand-alone line. Additionally, a hybrid dry pre-sort/commit-to-pack line does not use water for fruit transport or bin filling, which eliminates the issues associated with water related fruit damage and water disposal.
In order to create an effective hybrid solution, new products and processes are required. A dry bin filler that is faster and causes much less fruit damage than existing products is a must. Another requirement is a cost effective grading and sorting solution that can identify defects, remove 'culls' and sort the remaining fruit based on size, color or other attributes.
By combining its electronic sorting and dry bin filling technologies, SmarTouch can offer a dry pre-sort solution that can be added to the 'front end' of a commit-to-pack line between the wet bin dumper and washing and waxing equipment. The TrueSort grading and sorting solution would identify culls, slicers and 'non-target' fruit which would be re-binned using the GentleFiller solution. Target fruit would proceed through the commit-to-pack line as normal.