Tomra Food introduces SmartGrade on its Spectrim platform. The new system puts the packhouse in complete control of grading with such accuracy that it is able to pack fruit to maximize sales by matching very precisely the specific requirements of the individual customers. It identifies each blemish and defect type, and maintains consistent grading performance even when there is high variability in the quality profile of incoming fruit batches. US-based packer Prima Frutta is an excellent example of how SmartGrade takes grading accuracy to an entirely new level, delivering significant improvements in efficiency, yields and profitability with all commodity types.
Precise grading with no compromise on all commodity types SmartGrade allows multiple inspection passes of each image of the fruit, with individual defects assigned to each pass and the settings optimized based on that specific defect. This results in extreme accuracy in identifying individual defects and blemish types – even with hard-to-detect defects.
“The advantage is that you can look for different things on each pass, rather than having to bundle them together,” explains Kurt Bagby, Research and Grading Team Lead, R&D at Tomra Fresh Food, part of Tomra Food. “This is very useful when defects occur together or on top of each other. It allows you to get very granular in your grading.”
The multiple passes targeted on individual defects means that SmartGrade maintains a consistent grading performance when there are variations in incoming fruit batches.
“Incoming fruit and the distribution of defects within the fruit can change a lot,” adds Kurt Bagby. “Systems rely on compromise settings to deliver the required grade pack. Some defects will be detected better than others and good fruit will be more likely to be rejected as a result of this trade-off. Also, the system will be in trouble if the fruit batch presents new or unusually high levels of a specific defect that wasn’t expected. With SmartGrade we can atomize the grading around each defect of interest, without compromises, so that we can get the best performance for every one of them.”
SmartGrade also helps packhouses address the issue of labor shortage, as it requires fewer people on the line for manual grading due to its ability to maintain high accuracy with high variability in incoming fruit batches. This is particularly valuable at this time, as the pressure to reduce labor in packhouses to ensure safe working conditions with social distancing measures is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SmartGrade performs equally well on all commodity types: from apples and stone fruit – including cherries and avocados – to citrus and kiwi fruit, as well as potatoes and onions.
Developed to meet the customers’ evolving needs, SmartGrade adds value for packers such as Prima Frutta Spectrim was designed with future upgrades in mind in order to meet the evolving requirements of packhouses and continue to deliver more value for their investment over time. SmartGrade is the latest innovation introduced on this platform to help customers resolve specific situations in the field.
“Customers had been asking us for solutions to address a variety of challenges they were encountering in their packhouses,” explains Kurt Bagby. “They were having to make compromises, make different choices according to the fruit that was coming in. We looked for a way to resolve the problems for all of them. We quickly came up with several prototypes and tried them on a variety of specific challenges with various customers. SmartGrade was the solution.”
Among the customers who tested SmartGrade in their packhouses is Prima Frutta, a family owned business based in California, USA, which is regarded as an industry leader for its adoption of cutting edge technology and has established a reputation for growing and selling top quality apples and cherries. Tim Sambado, owner of Prima Frutta is impressed with the results achieved: “This season we experienced the new SmartGrade software on our brand new InVision2 cherry grading line. SmartGrade immediately allowed us to grade consistently and with high accuracy, challenging defects like open sutures and subtle browning from wind scarring. SmartGrade clearly differentiates between cosmetic surface blemishes and defects with the potential to cause later spoilage of the fruit. The result is greatly improved accuracy and performance, and being able to target difficult defects with ease.”