16 Jun New fruit packing system packs a high performance punch
Pictured – the new bagging trayfilling system in operation at Tollemache Orchard
Apple production at the Tollemache orchards packhouse has been in more full swing than usual, thanks to a new bagging trayfilling system created by EQM Industrial.
Tollemache Orchards is one of a select group of fruit companies that is exporting bagged apples. Last year the Hastings family business sent one container load of bagged apples offshore and demand this season has well exceeded that.
However, the increase in demand in bagged apples has caused some problems in the packing process. The more traditional way of using rotary tables was too slow and not enough packing staff could stand around the table and fill bags.
Tollemache Orchards’ manager Hamish D’Ath wanted a solution to the packing problem so he came to EQM.
Click on the video below to watch a short video on the new trayfilling system.
“Packing from the rotary tables was too slow and inefficient and we were getting bottlenecks which then meant we had to stop the whole line until we cleared the tables.”
Hamish didn’t want to increase the size of the packing facility. The brief was to reconfigure it and add packing lanes tailor designed for bagging fruit but also to traypack Z packs and RDT .
Two packing lanes have been trailed and they’ve been so successful that three more bagging line tray filler systems will be added.
“This [the bagging system] is perfect and the production outputs far exceed what we’ve managed in the past.
Proof of this is that a shipping container of bagged fruit can be packed within four days, which is three days faster than previously achieved.
The system can do two jobs.. It packs first grade fruit into Z packs on the bottom conveyor and any rejected fruit is taken away via the overhead conveyor, or it can be used to pack fruit into plastic bags by lifting up the bagging tables. The bagged fruit is then placed on the upper conveyor and sent along to a bag packing station.
The conveyor to some degree is close to self-packing as the fruit moves off the top conveyor and gently onto Z pack trays which can be placed on the conveyor two trays-wide.
Since being installed some modifications have been made. Additional lighting was required to assist in the sorting and has been positioned under the top lane.
Like most new technology and innovations, EQM has added ‘pull out’ tables and ‘pop up’ platforms that can be used for a range of roles such as placing checkweighing scales, packaging materials and export fruit cartons of all sorts of sizes.
Such innovations have allowed Hamish to direct up to 20 percent of his production through each of these lanes, with up to five people stationed on each to keep up.
Little did he realise how much more production could be achieved in the same space