A compact fruit grader ideal for smaller runs

Grading fruit and vegetables for size and appearance is becoming increasingly important in today’s domestic and export markets. Solutions often require significant investment and are unsuitable for delicate fruits, odd shapes, or don’t match the smaller scale required for particular crops or varieties.

Auspouch, an Australian based specialist packaging company, has worked with Zetapack of Italy to address these concerns and deliver practical and straightforward graders suited to a wide variety of Australian and New Zealand produce.

Auspouch fresh produce business manager, Frank Trimboli said with Zetapack graders, produce can be graded by weight, size and colour – ensuring customer specifications for each batch and pack format can be met.

The Auspouch division of Metalprint Australia is a globally recognised supplier of innovative packaging and packing solutions operating more than 30 years in Australia.

Auspouch’s offers to the fresh produce industry include the Flexfresh Liner bag technology for shelf-life extension of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers and FRUTMAC – a new paperboard-based retail packing system from Italy for supermarkets.

“The Zetapack approach is to use machine-based grading and human operators in partnership,” Mr Trimboli said. This results in accurate sorting of the fruit while maintaining the soft handling that a human operator can provide. “By eliminating the human decision process, accuracy and efficiency improve across full packing shifts.”

Zetapack uses an ingenious method of electronically grading each piece of fruit and assigning it to individual operators. Each operator is alerted to their designated fruit using a moving LED bar at each workstation. If a fruit or vegetable is unpicked, it merely moves around another time to be picked, reducing waste. Click here to see Zetapack graders in action.  

The equipment measures the number of pieces of each grade picked throughout each session, giving managers an accurate record of pack out statistics and packing efficiency.  

Zetapack graders can be accurately calibrated even for specific varieties of fruit such as nashi pears, golden delicious apples, apricots, persimmons, peaches, and nectarines as well as specific varieties of vegetables.

Zetapack graders are designed and built for

·      soft, ripe and delicate fruits

·      oddly shaped fruits

·      bunches and tresses.

Mr Trimboli said they are also ideal for hard fruits at lower production volumes where it is not feasible to use or change over to a high tonnage grader. Zetapack can be efficient at production rates as low as 1–2 tonnes per hour.

“Zetapack graders are perfect for niche varieties and smaller packing sheds. They are compact with a low footprint in the packing shed. Their design is ‘plug and play’, which means they can be installed quickly and easily using local resources.

“They are also simple to maintain – and because Auspouch is a locally-based company with experienced technicians, there is no reliance on overseas assistance to install grading equipment and get it up and running,” Mr Trimboli said.

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