Giropoma starts up a new robotic line for the selection and packaging of its apples

For Giropoma, technology and innovation have always been key elements to remain competitive in the market. In this sense, the company has made a new commitment and has launched a new robotic line for the selection and triage of apples, as well as for their automatic packaging.

Speed is one of the main benefits of this new robotic line, since it has a packing capacity twice as fast as the lines currently available to the apple producer and marketer, and is capable of packing up to 5,000 kilos of fruit per hour.

Technology also plays a key role in terms of benefits, because with this, the machine is able to select and separate apples into three categories: category I, which includes the fruit that goes directly to the packaging robots; category II, which includes fruit that is packaged in bulk, and that has some skin defect; and category III, which collects the fruit that has more serious defects or bruises, and that is destined for the industry to produce juices, compotes and other derivatives. This selection is possible thanks to a set of cameras that analyze 100% of the apple’s surface and, by means of a series of 30 photographs, detect any skin defects or bruises through the dual-sensor technology of each camera. In addition, it also has a second scanner for the detection of internal defects.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the robotic section of the machine, which, by means of another series of cameras, is capable of facing, orienting and placing each piece inside the cavity or inside the box as smoothly as possible, thus completing the apple selection and packaging process.

Thus, this robotized line has a total of 72 sets of cameras, of different types, which allow the automation of the entire sorting and packaging process thanks to the management of an important computerized equipment that manages the entire procedure.

“Despite this complexity, the machine can be controlled intuitively and easily from its control center, where the entire process can be controlled in real time through a series of screens,” shares Eduard Borrell, Maintenance Manager at Giropoma.

Technology has always been a big bet for Giropoma. Innovation is part of the company’s DNA and, therefore, it is key to mechanize and automate processes as much as possible.

The irrigation system based on soil moisture sensors allows Giropoma to be more eficient

Since 2018, Giropoma has implemented an irrigation system based on soil moisture sensors to indicate the humidity and water available for apple trees. It is a network of sensors distributed throughout the productive area which, through the data extracted and a climate forecast, allow them to give weekly irrigation recommendations to their partners – producers. These recommendations are made twice a week, and are useful for them to know if they have to increase irrigation, or on the contrary, decrease it, or keep it the same.

The method consists of soil monitoring based on probes that measure the volumetric content of water in the soil, and based on this volume, they know the amount of water available. The sensors are placed at 20 cm from the surface, in order to have a control of the water on the surface; at 40 cm, where the most relevant amount of apple tree roots are located; and at 60 cm, the area where there are no more roots and water is not available for the trees.

These tools, which provide information on the approximate distribution of water in the soil, allow the company to check the degree of humidity and whether the irrigation being carried out is correct. This means that the water reaches up to 40 cm from the surface, where the roots of the apple trees are located, or on the contrary, irrigation is insufficient, or more water is being used than necessary.

However, the data are indicative and it is necessary to know the type of soil and the field in question. For this reason, Giropoma has different points where they monitor soil moisture, since each field has different ways of obtaining water and different types of soil.

In recent years, with this system based on soil moisture sensors, the company has detected a 30% decrease in irrigation water compared to the water balance method previously used. In other words, less water is being irrigated compared to the traditional way of calculating irrigation needs. The way of calculating needs based on probes, with sensors in the soil, has allowed them to use less water and, therefore, to be more efficient and rational.

It has been 5 years since the company implemented this 100% efficient method and, despite the current exceptional state of drought, it has not had to take any special measures or make any modifications in terms of water rationing and irrigation recommendations, thanks to this long-standing irrigation optimization action.

In this case, the one that does play an important role for Giropoma is fruit thinning, emphasizing this practice to ensure the viability and quality of the apples of the new season. It is of vital importance to ensure that the fruit units that can reach the harvest have the desired quality, as well as to avoid possible fields with excess fruit. In this way, the rest of the fruit can develop correctly and contribute to saving water.

Currently, the lack of rainfall and the low availability of water, which accentuate the drought episode, hinder the production process of apples and the rest of the crops.

SCABKILL project, rationalization of the use of phytosanitary products in the control of apple scab

Giropoma Costa Brava SL, as leader, together with Girona Fruits SCCL, Fructícola Empordà SL, Serrater SL and Agroalimentaria Mas Saulot SL; and with the participation of IRTA as technological center; is working on the development of precision treatment systems and inoculum management techniques to rationalize the use of phytosanitary products in the control of apple apple scab (SCABKILL).

In the Girona area, the control of apple apple scab concentrates more than 80% of the phytosanitary treatments, being the control of primary infections in spring one of the critical points for the management of the disease.

In this context, the main objective of the SCABKILL project is to define a comprehensive strategy for the sustainable control of apple scab by:

– Developing tools to manage the primary inoculum of ground leaves.

– Evaluating systems that allow forcing the release of inoculum at a time without risk of disease

– Using precision dusting systems to improve the efficiency of treatments

– Evaluating sustainable alternatives to synthetic products.

SCABKILL is framed within the European Innovation Partnership Operational Groups support for agricultural productivity and sustainability, financed by the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

 

“Project funded through the Operation 16.01.01 Cooperation for Innovation of the Rural Development Program of Catalonia 2014-2022.”

accioclimatica_h3Logo_FEADER Europa inverteix en les zones rurals

Giropoma’s new commitment to technology: mechanization of the tray packing line

Technology has always been a big bet for Giropoma. Innovation is part of the company’s DNA and, therefore, it is key to mechanize and automate processes as much as possible. Recently, the company has made a new commitment to technology and has mechanized the tray packaging line, which has recently started operating, to streamline the process, reduce packaging time, increase responsiveness and be more efficient, flexible and competitive.

The main objective of robotizing this line has been to minimize handling, reducing processes that do not add value and improving quality, since it allows avoiding possible blows, tray defects…, as well as increasing yield.

As for the process followed by the apples, after storage, they have been automatically selected by means of a machine for this purpose, the precalibrating machine, which classifies them by size, color and quality. Once precalibrated, they are stored in a cold room at a temperature of around 3 °C until they are packed, in this case in trays.

This new line is packaged in sealed trays with a label. Currently, there are many different types, but until a few years ago, we only had one made of cardboard and PVC plastic film, which has been replaced by more environmentally friendly and sustainable options. Thus, we have opted for cellulose trays sealed with a label, the most common 4 and 6 pieces, which differ from the traditional ones because the wings are attached by the label and surround the fruit inside.

EROSKI etiqueta 5 SAFATES (2)Sealed format with label

Reducing the handling of apples has also been a key element of this new line, thus extending their shelf life.

It should also be noted that the fact of automating this process has eliminated the manual handling of boxes, a strategy that contributes to Giropoma’s continuous improvement of the labor quality of the company’s workers.