Over the last three years, Maf Roda has significantly expanded their footprint in the Citrusdal Valley of South Africa.
Two Maf Roda Globalscan 7 sorters on adjacent packlines using VIOTEC and INSIGHT technology at Mouton Citrus, Citrusdal
Jan Coetzer, MD of Groenkloof Sitrus explains that their decision to go with Maf Roda as a packline service provider was the result of extensive research. “We concluded that Maf Roda’s Globalscan 7 technology, blemish sorting and wet line quality stood out as the best, and that the company offered the best turnkey solution for dependable packlines,” he says.
The Groenkloof packhouse has recently completed a considerable expansion and upgrading process which has included the installation of a Maf Roda six lane sizer packline with the latest electronic Globalscan 7 with VIOTEC technology.
Maf Roda’s VIOTEC system is an additional feature of the sorter that can identify even the smallest bit of rotten fruit which could easily be missed during manual inspection. The VIOTEC also identifies sour rot on the fruit, which is important as sour rot has the potential to infect large volumes of fruit.
According to Coetzer, the Maf Roda packline’s warm water flooder is extremely efficient at washing and sanitising the fruit. “The international markets for South African fruit are becoming increasingly strict regarding the permissible use of chemical applications. As a result, the effective washing and application of the permissible sanitising chemicals represent a very important part of the packing process. The water runs over the fruit in curtains and makes this process considerably easier to manage and complete successfully.”
Groenkloof Sitrus MD Jan Coetzer checking fruit quality at the quality sampling station of the Maf Roda packline at Groenkloof Sitrus packhouse
Coetzer says that their company has been impressed by the customer service that they have received from Maf Roda, from when they first made contact, through the assembly period and with the ongoing after sales service. “The Maf Roda team members are confident and know that they offer a reliable product and service which fulfils the needs of their client. If we have any problems, the Maf Roda support team are always ready and available to assist us.”
“We really appreciated the work relationship established with the entire team at Groenkloof,” explains Fabrice Blanc, General Manager of Maf Agrobotic and Director of Maf Roda RSA. “It has been key in providing us with an understanding of the work process and insightful inputs regarding the main production objectives of the fruit station. This assisted us in defining and establishing the most appropriate and valuable sorting and packing solution for Groenkloof. During our visit in June, we have been able to witness Groenkloof's operational teams taking control of the management of this global “tool” that we have installed to best meet their daily needs. We have also witnessed their satisfaction of the improvements already achieved in their work,” explains Blanc.
Focus on automation
Mouton Citrus is another satisfied customer since 2017 when they installed their first eight lane Maf Roda packline with the Globalscan 6 sizer. In 2019 they upgraded the capacity of their older packhouse and installed their second 8-lane Maf Roda packline with the Globalscan 7 sizer and VIOTEC.
In 2022, Mouton Citrus has expanded their newer packhouse and as part of this process, they have implemented a broad range of expansions and upgrades with Maf Roda equipment, including the installation an additional 6-lane sizer with Globalscan 7 technology.
They have also upgraded the existing Globalscan 6 sizer to a Globalscan 7 sizer, and thus all packlines at the facilities now have Globalscan 7 sizers with VIOTEC. One of the lines also has INSIGHT technology which scans fruit internally and can reveal the internal quality of the fruit including sugar levels and internal dryness.
Mouton Citrus is currently putting the finishing touches to this expansion project, which also includes Maf Roda automation equipment such as bin filling and washing equipment and speed packers. The focus of the new Maf Roda line and equipment is on automation and include automatic bin packing, bin washing and speed packers. The automated speed packers have a dual function as they can place-pack and jumble-pack various types of citrus according to weight, thus increasing productivity and variety packing options.
A Maf Roda V8 speed packer with Jumble Filler Combo in operation
“We chose Maf Roda systems as they represented the lowest risk for packlines,” explains Boet Mouton, Director of Marketing & Packing of Mouton Citrus. He added that VIOTEC technology is an invaluable tool in detecting sour rot and blemishes on the fruit.
“We have achieved excellent results from this technology, particularly with the more high-risk varieties. We have a wide range of clients and varieties, and we need to be flexible with different packing options. At the same time, the ability to deliver fruit of a consistent quality to our receivers remains of utmost importance and we are very satisfied with the extremely consistent results that we achieve from Maf Roda’s systems.”
Turnkey solution clinches the decision for Citrusdal grower
Rossouw Conradie, packhouse manager of Patrysberg, a citrus operation in Citrusdal, explains that during 2021 the packhouse was expanded and a ten lane Maf Roda sizer packline they installed, is operational for the first time this season.
Rossouw Conradie, packhouse manager at Patrysberg Citrus with the newly installed Maf Roda packline (photos supplied by Lucentlands Media)
“Our packline has been running since the beginning of this harvest and when we have experienced a problem that required international expertise, they have flown in one of the foreign technicians that can help us. In the past, some South African growers were dissuaded from using Maf Roda due to the language barrier regarding the technical terminology. Fortunately, the South African Maf Roda team has expanded in recent years, and Maf Roda RSA is now able to serve clients in English, which has been a significant improvement.”
Conradie says that after doing extensive market research on the available packline systems, Maf Roda’s ability to provide them with a turnkey solution emerged as the clear choice.
The site of the Patrysberg packhouse is next to a steep hill, limiting the size of their expansion. The drying and waxing tunnels are usually very bulky parts of the packline and the limited space created quite a challenge. However, the Maf Roda team could assist them with this challenge and could adapt these tunnels to fit and work in the packhouse space.
“Even though the system involves the running of a range of large machines, everything is integrated and controlled from a central touch screen,” says Conradie. “The Maf Roda systems have been very well designed and the functions are well integrated.”
Locally manufactured components complement imported Maf Roda parts
Maf Roda RSA has teamed up with Maintech in South Africa to provide certain of the packline components to prevent the need to import all the Maf Roda components.
“It was good for us to see that the locally manufactured components were of excellent quality, manufactured to the same standard as the imported Maf Roda parts,” Conradie adds.
He stresses that an important aspect that influenced their choice of Maf Roda was the company’s global footprint. They work with people from fruit production regions around the globe and as a result, they remain in touch with the latest trends in packline technology and have access to international specialised technicians.
“Patrysberg is a brand-new customer for Maf Roda RSA, one more to join the Maf Roda family,” says Fabrice Blanc. “This confirms the validity of the investments that Maf Roda has made in South Africa in terms of additional staff and technical capacity to provide a local quality service. These investments have been implemented in response to a growing interest in our technical solutions, including grading, electronic sorting and automatic and robotic packaging, as well as our expertise in the products of our customers, including citrus, explained Blanc.
High investment in R&D
“Our sorting quality equipment, both external and internal, are a cornerstone of our development,” observes Didier Izard, Export Sales Director of Maf Roda.
“Each year, we invest 3 to 5% of our turnover in research and development to ensure innovation in all our process solutions. With electronic sorting, we remain focused on providing the most accurate and effective equipment for our customers’ field issues (for example diseases due to weather conditions or pests) or market demands. Our mission is to implement continuous innovation and to maintain a very close working relationship with our customers, as we do with Mouton, in order to collect the right data from them to refine our systems and ensure our customers can improve their returns.”
By: Louise Brodie, Lucentlands Media
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