click image to zoomCourtesy OG PackingGrowers check out OG Packing's 32-lane addition to its existing 40-lane optical cherry sorter at a recent lunch tour.Stockton, Calif.-based OG Packing, which last year installed a 40-lane optical cherry sorting system, showed off its 32-lane addition at the grower-shipper's annual grower lunch, April 10.
Together, the two systems from Lugo, Italy-based Unitec S.p.A. comprise 72 sorting lanes, making it the largest optical cherry sorting system in the nation, according to a news release.
The installation of the 32-lane sorting system addition was completed in time for the start of this year's California cherry season.
After bins of fruit are unloaded into dump tanks, flumes of water carry the cherries gently through the non-intrusive sorting process.
Fruit are first singulated onto rollers that carry them under two sets of cameras using Unitec’s proprietary Cherry_Vision.
The first set shoots pictures from four different angles for color, quality and defects. The second set images the top of the fruit for sizing. Computers process the information and kick the fruit out in the appropriate packing lane.
Along with the larger cherry sorting system also came an increase in the number of box fillers to keep up with the enhanced throughput.
The system also will improve the consistency and quality of the pack-out.
"OG Packing invented the cluster-cutter and roller-sizer before I was born and now we usher in a new generation of technology," Tom Gotelli, production manager, said in the release. "Growing up in this business, who could have dreamed that there would be cameras taking 30 pictures of each individual cherry as it passes through the line—this technology is absolutely amazing."