“Over the last year or so, more growers have been looking to further remove labor and reduce human touches to help efficiently scale operations and mitigate contamination and recalls. We have added additional automation options to their leafy green line solutions. These lines and equipment include options for head lettuce, leafy greens and microgreens”, says Nick Maglio, Director of Marketing.
“Our leafy green washing and vibratory de-watering systems have been in market for some time. Also, automation helps in traceability measures. In response, we’ve integrated additional technologies into our portfolio. Our lines reduce labor and physical interaction all the way from post-harvest through case packing. This includes infeed, washing, drying / de-watering, cutting, clamshell fillers, vertical baggers and flow wrappers, metal detectors and case packing, with some robotic functions.”
Part of this is due to requests from vertical and hydroponic leafy green growers, on top of traditional field growers. Nick continues, “Several controlled environment facilities automate growing operations, yet a significant amount still rely on manual harvesting and post-harvest processing. By applying our solutions, a crew of 25 or more can often be reduced to 2, depending on scale. Additionally, many of these facilities realize that, regardless of the growing environment, there is still a need to properly wash and dry product. Many stress the importance of reducing water consumption, not only during the growing process, but during post-harvest functions. ”
To address this, ProEx Food engineers added new features to their leafy-green spec bubble washers. Daniel Ghadiri, CTO and President, explains: “Our washers have always included options for both dry and wet pre-stage insect and debris separation, multi-stage kill-steps and automatic washing tank soil/sand/debris removal. For heavily soiled, we have water jet technologies.”
“Today, traditional, vertical and hydroponic all have rapidly evolving needs, so we have added tumbling drums, water capture and recirculation options to several of our washers, including our leafy green models. This complete washing system, even though it is relatively compact, gently washes leafy products, filters out and removes waste and can cycle used water through particulate filters, dosing and/or additive enrichment processes in a closed system. All of these functions are tightly integrated and controlled as a holistic system.”
In many traditional lines, vibratory de-watering shakers or centrifuge dryers are utilized. However, the ProEx Food R&D group has a new cooling and drying system in development. Daniel explains: “We recognize a need to help manage the effects of environmental temperature and humidity fluctuations on the end product. Some processors have also requested lines that further reduce moisture at this stage, beyond typical market offerings. Combined, our Cool Dry System addresses these needs and reduces wilting and spoilage – extending the shelf life for lettuce heads and bagged greens.”
More information about this line can be found on their website.