More precise sorting on softness for blueberries

A unique way of sorting blueberries with the BERRYWAY from MAF Industries. 

“The BERRYWAY optical sorting solution sorts on colour, external and internal defects, including softness, by using hyper-spectral cameras and LED solutions,” Jeremy Berros – Business Development Director at MAF Industries - says. “The machine takes 56 pictures per piece of fruit. The quality of the softness is graded, which is the most important part of the quality sorting for fresh packing, and pertains to each individual blueberry’s degree of firmness/softness .”

“We can grade bloom coverage, stem detection, dirty berries, punctures, molds, scars, blemishes and softness, with over three cuts of softness,” Jeremy says. “In terms of production, our target is to capture 10 per cent of your total berry packing by doing the grading right the first time, thus eliminating re-runs.”

Mechanical vs Optical Sorting
“With mechanical sorting, the blueberry bounces on the mechanical keys. This means only a part of the berry is looked at, rather than the whole berry. This results in lots of berries being ejected, even though they’re potentially good berries. Mechanical sorting is less accurate than optical sorting. We look at the entire berry in optical sorting, because we’re looking at what’s under the skin of the berries. We bring the tools to the market to detect softness with an optical sorting machine.”

“Our main mechanical sorting competitors mostly works with manual grading. We not only propose a technological solution featuring the latest technology, we also propose a financial solution so customers can make a choice in terms of investment. Our machine can guarantee a return on investment in less than three years on average for fresh pack to be financially consistent and efficient. We support our customers both technologically and financially,” Jeremy continues. “The core business of the company is to provide fully integrated turnkey solution and in 2018, the peripheral equipment will also be made in-house as well, so that we can be the only contact for our customers.”

“On the optical sorting market we know that at the moment we are able to do twice the capacity of our optical sorting competitors with our high-speed capacity BERRYWAY carrier”.

Cleaning system
“We’re doing high-speed capacity sorting and grading, while also saving space in the packing houses. Our line can do between four and six times more than current packing lines. Our line also requires less maintenance, nor does it need an intense manual cleaning process thanks to our new cleaning system that can be used after shifts or during breaks. This reduces not only the cleaning procedure time at the end of the day but also reduce downtime during production and thus optimizing throughput at the end of the day.”

MAF Industries has installed blueberry lines in California and the Pacific North West area, and is developing export markets like Peru, Chile, China, Europe and British Columbia. “We export a lot, because of the seasons. Our blueberry grader is very successful for blueberry packers and growers from all over the world. The South American market starts in September/October. The North American share is the biggest market for blueberries. The fresh market is the largest market we’re focusing on for blueberries right now.”

Besides blueberries, MAF is also looking into utilizing the new BERRYWAY for sorting of cranberries.

Labour shortage & Minimum Wage Increase
President Trump’s blockades and the increase of the minimum wage in the US have caused labour rates increase and labour shortages. “Because of that, people are looking for solutions to save both money and labour. Our new solution would result in savings in the packing house, but also with the ability to be able to sort different types compared to previous machines. Manual picking, which is now the main way of picking berries, and which is labour-intensive, could then be replaced with mechanical picking thanks to our technology now available on the market. This would result in enormous labour saving in the fields as well for our customers and better quality in bigger quantity to address the need coming from the retailers like Costco or Walmart,” Jeremy concludes.

MAF is the world leader in complete fresh fruit and vegetable packing lines. MAF utilizes the latest improvements and designs in electronic fruit sorting equipment, automated fruit and packaging equipment, and automated system controls. Our vision includes being the world leader in service support and customer satisfaction along with providing the most technologically advanced complete fruit handling systems.

For more information:
Jeremy Berros
Maf Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 218
Traver, CA 93673
Tel: +1 559 897 2905

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