GREEFA’s SmartPackr robot triples packaging efficiency
GREEFA’s SmartPackr robot accurately packs 7,000+ apples per hour, equal to three human packers over 24 hours.
Packaging fresh fruits and vegetables is time-consuming and often done by hand. For suppliers it is expensive, and increasingly difficult to recruit people willing to do this relatively boring and repetitive task all day long. The SmartPackr robot, developed by Dutch manufacturer GREEFA, is the solution. The robot automatically picks and places (high-quality) apples in plastic and/or paper pulp trays for cardboard boxes – closed or open top – all day, every day (and night if needed!).
The apples are transported, via a soft rubber diabolo roller belt, from the sorting machine to the packing robot. A color camera ensures the apple is placed in the correct stem position, blush side up.
If packed fruit quality needs to be controlled, the robot can connect with an external quality detection (iQS) measuring system. The system determines, based on the quality of the apple’s skin, if it is suitable for packing. If an apple deviates from specified quality criteria, the robot arm skips that piece. The arm picks apples from the conveyor belt and places them in trays. The unique shape of the arm’s gentle suction cup ensures the picking and placing never damages the fruit.
The robot has some high-tech options. For example, the head can rotate an apple 360 degrees, place fruit with the blush side always up and in the preferred stem-calyx position. Users control fruit orientation via the machine’s settings. Moreover, the system can determine the size, type and capacity of the tray-tab, and ‘know’ if the apple will fit into the cell. With a placing rate of up to two apples per second, more than 7,000 pieces per hour, one robot can do the work of three human packers over 24 hours and, of course, is never absent or unproductive.
The SmartPackr robot was successfully tested on Golden Delicious, an apple cultivar that is highly sensitive to bruising.