Automation in the sorting and grading of cherries allows an optimal evaluation of each fruit and guarantees uniformity in the quality, adding a significant amount of value to the final product. This is a very important factor with this fruit, which requires great care in its handling and which has a very short season, making it essential to have a high processing capacity. The Catalan producer and marketer Cerima has consistently relied on Maf Roda, the world leader in global solutions for fruit and vegetables, for the implementation of its latest generation automatic sorting, sizing and packing system for cherries.
"Our first Maf Roda electronic sorter was a 4-way one that looked at color and caliber. In 2015, we acquired a new 10-line sorter that looked at color, caliber and defects, and in 2019, we expanded big in the plant by adding another 14-way sorter, with all relevant accessories, and we updated all the electronics to the latest version of Maf Roda," says Eduard Cedó, General Manager of Cerima. "We now have 24 sorting lines equipped with the Cherryscan, the cherry-specific Globalscan 7, the most modern automation system Maf Roda has today."
"However, our growth was not only based on expanding the sorting lines; we also upgraded the cooling, loading and unloading areas and restyled the packing area we had with solutions designed and developed by Maf Roda." In fact, the limitations on the space available to remodel and expand Cerima's facilities required the design of a customized project for the company.
"We are located in an area that does not allow us to expand our surface area on a single level, so when in 2019 we decided to grow, we had to do it in height," says Eduard. "Our packing facilities are 3 stories high and the machines manufactured by Maf Roda are purposely made for Cerima. It has always adapted to our needs, with the risks that this entails, and the end results have always been very satisfactory. In fact, it allowed us to integrate 24 tracks in an area that in other packing facilities would have probably been limited to just 16. Those 8 extra lanes mean 4,000 kilos more cherries that we can process every hour," he says. "The flexibility that Maf Roda has given us couldn't be offered by other brands at the time, and that allowed us to have super-compact packing facilities with a high processing capacity of up to 4,500-5,000 tons of cherries per season," he says.
Cerima is currently in the middle of the cherry campaign, which started on April 8 and will last until the end of June/beginning of July. This year, it expects to produce and market 3,000 tons of cherries, which it is processing at its facilities at a rate of 100,000 kilos per day, "although it could process up to 200,000," says the General Manager.
"Thanks to Maf Roda's sorting system we obtain a uniform product in terms of caliber and color and also in terms of quality, and this is highly appreciated by our customers," he says. "Cerima's quality has always stood out among all cherry brands in the market, both European and international."
Selecting the right quality, moreover, guarantees the fruit's arrival to distant destinations in optimal condition. "One of the strengths of Maf Roda's sorting systems is that it manages to screen soft fruit very well. This facilitates the product's shipment to more difficult destinations, such as Asia or South Africa, which demand high quality and firmness."
Most of Cerima's fruit is intended for export. It sends 80% of the volume produced each season to international markets. However, as Eduard points out, they are increasingly focusing on the domestic market. "We are working more and more with large supermarket chains such as Mercadona, Caprabo or Eroski. All these powerful supermarkets in Spain have great sales capacities and, in the end, yield good economic returns," he says.