Speed, capacity and accuracy are keywords for South Africa’s rapidly expanding fruit export industry and the designers of packaging equipment are locked in a race against time to provide better and faster equipment.
The apple industry alone recorded sales of R6,111 billion in 2014, nearly twice that of pears, which is its nearest rival in the deciduous fruit stakes. Since then exports to China and other eastern countries have also demanded an increase in pace.
Dutch-based GREEFA – which serves a major part of the South African apple industry through MED Automation – designed, developed and launched a robot which fills trays and open top boxes at a startling one fruit per second. The robot – called SmartPackr – combines this kind of swiftness with GREEFA’s external quality detection and a final scan for colour.
”But a user-friendly touch screen still allows the operator to set things like speed and capacity at will,” says GREEFA’s Sales Manager, Dick Verkade. “It even lets you choose the exact fruit position – blush side up, for example.”
The touch screen is easy to use and moveable around the robot. This underlines GREEFA’s ergonomic approach.
“The SmartPackr is the most accurate, yet efficient and user-friendly fruit- packaging option currently available and we want to keep it that way,” Verkade states.