In 2015, Jealous Fruits acquired a site just 5 minutes north of Kelowna airport and have been planning the new facility since that time. From ground breaking in April of 2019 to present, the long journey is complete and the 140,000 square foot cherry facility was inaugurated July 7th. “With our new Duck Lake facility, we went from 30,000 square feet to 140,000 square feet, so it is a big upgrade for us,” says Julie McLachlan with Jealous Fruits. Close proximity to the airport, direct highway access and a central location to the company’s orchards are just a few of the benefits.
Julie McLachlan and David Geen with Jealous Fruits
Cherry Vision 3
We have upgraded from a 12 lane Cherry Vision 2 UNITEC line, to 28 lanes of UNITEC with Cherry Vision 3 optical sorting equipment. This means we have the latest camera technology. “We can now clearly see the nose of the fruit, which helps identifying and sorting out any rain damage,” shared McLachlan. In addition, the new equipment has a capacity of 18 tons per hour, giving Jealous Fruits the ability to pack dramatically increased tonnage. Because of increased capacity Jealous Fruits can handle upcoming tonnage increases from company orchards, and also will start packing cherries for a select group of outside growers.
The system’s 30 drops allow for a variety of packaging to be packed simultaneously, including 2.5 kg, 5 kg, 9 kg, clamshells, and pouch bags. The boxes with fruit are filled automatically, reducing the number of people needed in the packing facility. “The new system is very labor efficient,” commented McLachlan. “Previously, we had 100 workers in the pre-sort room, and with the new line the need for labor in the pre-sort room has been completely eliminated. With our automatic box fillers, we have 100% weight accuracy per package and save more labour. The timing of the new facility worked out well as this year, and has allowed for social distancing of staff within the facility.
Automatic box fillers
In addition to increased capacity and labor efficiency, McLachlan is also excited about the gentle handling of the fruit. The auto box fillers feature minimal drops and no hand contact with the cherries as filling occurs. In addition the system’s automatic palletizers are much more gentle on the fruit. The equipment takes boxes off the line and gently builds up complete pallets without any staff. “These are the first UNITEC automatic palletizers in North America,” she said. “They are used mainly for sea freight, to ensure the fruit is treated as gently as possible.”