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Diederik Peters, Greefa: “A successful challenge”

New packing robot for apples

Greefa recently launched the SmartPackr2, a packing robot that has initially been developed for apples. Diederik Peters, project manager development, was closely involved in the development process of the team of six people. “Focusing on apples was challenging, because apples have to have their blushed sides facing upwards in the trays, and all stems have to point in the same direction. We were successful in this.”

The SmartPackr2 operates in the following manner: the apples are supplied and rotate as they go through the camera cabinet. The apple is on two separate diabolos, which roll the apples in the right direction for the photographs to be taken. The cameras take more than 70 photographs per fruit. The photos are coupled to each other so that the most favourable side of the apple can be determined. This position and orientation data is also communicated to the robot, so that the stem orientation is the same for each apple.

The camera cabinet can be expanded with Greefa’s measuring system for external quality determination, iQS (Intelligent Quality Sorting System). This system decides if each individual apple meets the quality requirements. If that’s not the case, the apple is removed form the line.

The robot picks up the apples with a suction cup. This suction cup has a special shape, so that the apples don’t get damaged when they’re picked up and put away. Diederik: “Fruit-friendliness was one of the requirements the SmartPackr had to meet. That’s why we used Golden Delicious during testing, because it’s a delicate apple. When we saw the fruit remained undamaged after being picked up and put away by SmartPackr, we knew we were doing well.” The robotic arm can turn the apple 360 degrees.

The apples are placed on loose trays or in a one-layered box with a tray. The machine’s set-up determines how the apple should be placed. Moreover, the camera recognises the tray. How many apples can fit in it? Which tray is used? Is this tray suitable for the size of the apples? The supplied apples vary form 60 to 100 mm in diameter. The size of the apples partly decides the type of tray. The trays are also automatically supplied.

The SmartPackr2 has two robotic arms. Because of this, capacity has increased considerably compared to its one-armed brother: up to two apples per second. Al these (and many other) smart solutions of the packing robot are patented. The SmartPackr2 can be used in a separate packing line or directly on the sorting line.

Diederik Peters

Watch the video below to see the SmartPackr2 in action:

The first machines have already been sold. Two more will be installed at Vogelaar in Krabbendijke, the Netherlands, soon.

For more information:
Tel: +31 (0)345 57 81 00

Publication date: 3/13/2018


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