(CORRECTED) An automated check weighing system created by LCE Systems Inc. for California cherry packers has been adapted for other commodities.
The company developed the technology, In Motion Smart Weigh, over two years in partnership with Rice Lake Weighing Systems. It went public in April.
“We saw a need in the cherry industry to give our customers a way to check weigh each pack,” said Daniel Cannistraci, president of Linden, Calif.-based LCE Systems. “Some estimated they were giving away 1.5 pounds per box. When they pack 1.5 million boxes, it adds up.”
The system confronts another problem — giving buyers too little.
“One customer would send out a 16-pound box at 15.25,” Cannistraci said. “That can get your orders kicked or your retail contract canceled.”
Accuracy on Smart Weigh is pegged to within a hundreth of a pound.
It processes 80 to 85 cartons a minute.
“We wanted to double what people are currently doing,” Cannistraci said.
Lines running cans handle about 900.
He declined to name cherry clients. The machinery has also been used in walnut packing, and lately LCE Systems is targeting oranges and other commodities.
The technology was based on an existing idea of Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Rice Lake, Wis.
“They’ve done in-motion weighing before, but not at the speeds we’re doing it now,” Cannistraci said. “We added a few elements they hadn’t considered before, like a 45-degree eject.”
Ejects remove underweight or overweight cartons from the conveyor for repacking.
“When you’re kicking cartons off at 90 degrees as is common, it can be a shock to the fruit inside and lead to bruising,” he said.
Smart Weigh uses a pneumatic air ramp to cut friction during eject.
Most packing sheds have multiple places for loading cartons on lines. LCE Systems uses varying speeds on conveyors to create sufficient gaps for check weighing.
“If a client doesn’t have the time or space to gap the products, we can use an indexing belt to take care of some of that spacing requirement,” Cannistraci said.
The company’s other products include industrial scales, box fillers, produce traceability technologies and software. Information is online.
Note on correction: The original article misstated the accuracy of the product.