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A breakthrough from GP Graders and Freshtrack Software has significantly reduced costly grower changeover delays for contract cherry packers.


Latest News

Saving time and money by avoiding double handling

01 Aug 2006

A breakthrough from GP Graders and Freshtrack SoftwareTM has significantly reduced costly changeover delays for contract cherry packers between packing for different growers. The breakthrough, a pre-sizing lug filler, has led to a 30% reduction in staff and a far greater efficiency leading to a 50% reduction in packing costs.

It can take up to 15 minutes to clear a machine of produce from one grower before starting to pack for the next grower, which for some pack houses means keeping hundreds of staff waiting.

Copefrut, Chile’s largest packing house wanted to improve efficiency of their cherry line and this changeover time was the ideal place to start. Copefrut worked with GP Graders who designed the pre-sizing system.

The machine consists of the front end of a conventional cherry line: receival tank; damage-free cluster cutter; stepped roller sizer, and ends in an automatic lug filler system. The sized fruit is delivered into lugs waiting on conveyors in a tank of hydrocooled water. Ultrasonic sensors detect full lugs and halt delivery belts. Full lugs then advance towards the cool room where they await sufficient quantities of the cherry size to pack one size at a time.

Few staff are required to work the pre-sizer and delays between grower batches are shorter, leading to greatly reduced down times.

Lugs are tracked using GP Graders traceability software, Freshtrack GatewayTM. Luggage style labels are attached to lugs and they are easily found in the cool store.

Freshtrack GatewayTM allows the available quality of a packing size to be monitored.  Lugs are hand tipped into tanks at the beginning of the packing machinery and labels are scanned at this point so everything about the packed fruit is known.

Using the ball method of grower separation, balls with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology are dropped onto each lane after each grower’s fruit has been tipped and has reached the mixing channels. As fruit is packed, a packer prints a label which is affixed to the packaging. When the RFID ball passes a scanner at the end of the packing belt, this indicates to GatewayTM that the grower has changed and the appropriate labels are printed from that point.

Copefrut now pre-size for one shift and pack for two shifts and during these shifts down times have greatly reduced.

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