A pallet of fruit is automatically lifted and directed to storage.
A pallet of fruit is automatically lifted and directed to storage.

Matson Fruit Co., sister warehouse of Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co., completed installation of a new storage and shipping facility just in time for the start of the 2014 harvest.

At the heart of the facility is automated storage retrieval system technology, which uses cranes to automatically rack, track and move fruit pallets into cold storage, according to a news release.

A warehouse management system is able to locate specific pallets in the 4,060 positions in cold storage and retrieve them automatically or when directed by a user.

The system also responds to customer specifications by incorporating purchase order history, labeling needs, grade and size requirements, and available inventory.

An operator can quickly double-check the selections before automatically sending the palletized fruit to quality control for a final look before shipping.

When the truck arrives, the automated retrieval system routes the awaiting fruit and stages it for loading.

At 73 feet, the building is the tallest in Selah, yet has a smaller overall footprint, resulting in more efficient cooling, according to the release.

In addition, the automated cranes require fewer forklift doors, reducing energy loss and limiting lighting use.

“This system enables Matson Fruit to be more productive and responsive to customer specifications, and the significant energy savings reduces our impact on the environment,” Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing, said in the release.