Post-harvest research facility cuts spoilage and boosts efficiency
Phil Horton is the leading post-harvest researcher for an Australian Government research facility which focuses on post-harvest ripening and storage of fruit and vegetables.
The aim of this facility is to determine best practice for the horticulture industry. Part of its research involves an assessment of technologies for storage and ripening.
Unreliable logging and access
About 3 years ago, the research facility required a ripening controller which monitored ripening and other gas levels, as well as room and pulp temperature. According to Phil Horton, the old system was adequate, but had shortfalls such as ‘unreliable data logging and remote access.’
‘Cost could be significant’
For Horton, the biggest issue was the risk of relay settings being changed in error by unskilled staff. This had occurred more than once when he was off-site, and cold rooms had been rendered inoperable and produce spoiled.
As Horton puts it: ‘If that happened in a commercial setting, the costs could be significant.’ In his opinion, the problem was due to both view and configuration settings being on the main control display, and differences between this display and what remote users viewed via the user interface.
With the possible losses in mind, the research facility sought a new solution. Besides resolving the previously mentioned shortfalls, the replacement system had to meet very specific requirements. It needed to be able to:
- Log and control ethylene and air temperature across 7 cold rooms
- Monitor relative humidity and pulp temperature
- Monitor and control oxygen and carbon dioxide for Controlled Atmosphere Storage
- Enable reliable remote access by 3G to view, upload data and control the system
- Send alerts by SMS if pre-set control limits were exceeded, or compressed air lines were compromised.
In the end, the facility chose FreshView EC12 and according to Horton. After the switch, he claims the facility has not had a single incident of accidental relay changes - which cause cold room failures.
He puts it down to stronger security controls, better control panel layout, easier remote access and virtually no difference between the control panel display and the remote user interface.
Horton concludes that the system has had a positive impact on the facility’s overall research & development efficiency—which must be good news for the horticulture industry.
Publication date: 10/4/2017
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