Today’s sophisticated markets demand food that’s traceable, sustainably grown and compliant with strict international standards. Delicious goes without saying. So how to get the delicate juicy perfection of a ripe cherry to its destination intact? The answer is: Attention to detail, state of the art equipment and quick, gentle handling.
About our client
Fertile silty soil and abundant sunshine make Remarkable Orchards in Roxburgh Central Otago the perfect cradle for trees destined to produce world class fruit.
Sid Birtles, the owner takes a pro-active approach to industry challenges by growing a diverse range of fruit. Apricots, cherries, nectarines and peaches as well as apples are grown on the 100ha property.
Staying tuned and acceptable to demanding international markets Remarkable Orchards is certified for Global GAP and Tesco Nature’s Choice. Fruit is also grown to the safety and sustainability standards of the Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) programme.
This means that their fruit can be exported to almost any country in the world.
The Challenge for EQM
Fresh fruit is fragile and relies on cold storage and minimal, gentle handling.
Cherries needed to be brought out of the chiller to go across a defect sorting line onto the packing lanes to be graded and loaded into export cartons.
A carton conveyor was then needed to return the export cartons to the cold room within 10 – 12 minutes max!
As many as 12 packing staff could be working along the packing line in this area at one time. A layout that optimised the flow of fruit as well as providing safe effective staff traffic patterns was imperative.
On top of that, the safety of workers around machinery is crucial.
A coordinated solution
EQM is the NZ sales agent for Unitec Group in Italy so we were working with Sid Birtles on the supply of his new Unitec Cherry Vision line. Sid takes a personal interest in the detail of his packing line. All the way through we drew on his experience and input and discussed with him how he preferred to operate his line.
In November 2019 the new Unitec Vision 3 Cherry defect sorting line arrived from Italy. Within 4 weeks this line was assembled and up and running.
EQM’s carton conveyors completed the loop by taking cherries from the end of the Unitec packing stations back into the cool room.
Together we chose a band-driven roller conveyor system design, with its excellent safety features, fitted with line shaft guards for further worker protection.
This fully accumulating system takes the cartons around 90° corners, under walkways, under the fruit singulation system and quickly back into the chiller where the cartons are palletised. The key point here is the conveyor system doesn’t leave any carton of Cherries remaining outside the coolroom warming up from their ideal storage temperature of 3°c while waiting to be loaded onto a pallet.
Stainless steel was chosen for this system to match the Unitec cherry-packing line.
Delivery and setup
As part of our policy to work with our customer from design through to assembly and installation, we timed our conveyor system delivery to arrive after the Unitec turnkey system had been delivered. Due to the modular design of our system Sid’s team was able to unpack and install it while the Unitec system was being assembled.
An efficient, smooth running conveyor system that ensures Remarkable Orchard’s cherries keep their cool.
As our customer said:
“It’s gone extremely well, very quiet and you put the carton on it and don’t have to worry about it again.”
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