Companies lure produce business with technology - The Packer

Companies lure produce business with technology

12/09/2008 12:00:00 AM
Dan Galbraith

Steven Bunnell, North American commercial leader of process instruments for Thermo Fisher Scientific, Minneapolis, shows off the Ramsey VersaWeigh 300 Combo Checkweigher, which combines metal detection and check-weighing technologies.

(Dec. 9, 2:35 p.m.) CHICAGO — Many fresh produce operations need to ensure uniform weights of products in various packages and also check product for contaminants such as metals.

One machine at the recent Pack Expo at McCormick Place handles both tasks in a single unit.

Meanwhile, another company is adapting technology first developed for the meat industry to detect contaminants during packing of fresh produce items.

Combining technologies

The Ramsey VersaWeigh 300 Combo Checkweigher, launched this summer by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Minneapolis, gives fresh produce companies the ability to weigh and precisely scan for metals simultaneously.

The machine, on display Nov. 9-13 during Pack Expo, detects such contaminants as baling wire that grows right into carrots and other commodities, said Steven Bunnell, North American commercial leader of process instruments. Bunnell estimated the price of the machine at about $41,000.

Bunnell said the technology is already popular and in use at major fresh carrot companies such as Wm. Bolthouse Farms Inc. and Grimmway Farms, both based in Bakersfield, Calif. The equipment is also at work for other major companies, in blueberry and raisin operations, Bunnell said.

Bunnell said the new machine is fast, accurate and easily maintained.

The machine also has what the company calls “future-proof technology,” designed to ensure upgrades can be made at minimal cost.

New ‘dual-wave’ technology

Taking innovation in a different direction, Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Anritsu Industrial Solutions USA Inc. is trying to revolutionize inspection of fresh produce by adapting technology it originally developed for the meat industry.

At Pack Expo, the company introduced its sanitary x-ray system as an extension of its KD7400 line.

The new equipment prevents bacteria collection through a crevice-free housing and uses unique, dual-wave technology to detect contaminants, said Erik Brainard, general manager. By scanning fruits and vegetables via multiple wave frequencies, the machine can do a better job of detecting metal, Brainard said.

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