Leading edge automation in produce packing
May 3, 2016 By Lina Stoyanova LeamingtonGrower.com
May 3, 2016, Kingsville, Ont. – Louis Chibante, president of Golden Acre Farms Inc., has a solution to help control rising labour costs.
He and his team worked closely with KOAT of the Netherlands on a comprehensive robotics system for his packing line. KOAT is a market leader for internal transport and product processing systems in the international greenhouse horticulture market.
“We helped KOAT with this design,” Chibante explains. “We knew what our issues were and together we came up with a great decision as to what our needs are.”
They’ve created an efficient solution for labour packing, featuring robotic handling units to unload cucumber crates, help pack the produce, and then stack the finished crates. Everything is done through a computerized packing line that sorts and weighs each cucumber.
“We named the robots in case they need servicing and we gave them names because it makes everything more direct,” says Chibante. “My daughter named them Chloe and Lola after her dogs.”
In horticulture, one of the biggest expenses is packaging. “A lot of this labour is hard on the guys, especially the heavy dumping and lifting. So, we reduce the hardest labour by using the robotics.”
The line is obviously more efficient and it could do so much more. Thanks to the automation, only a handful of workers are now required.
“Our line does 21 acres of cucumbers. If we didn’t have the robotics, to keep up the same speed, we would need to have about 30 people here,” says Chibante.
The robots keep track of the produce and create greater food safety, adds warehouse manager Abe Klassen. “The traceability is huge. We can go back and figure out when it was packed if there was ever a recall.”
Follow the link to watch the entire process.
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