Harvest Season Technology Upgrades Essential To Cherry Growers
The harvest experience for many cherry growers in 2020 is significantly different to any other year in the past few decades, with the pandemic creating havoc with the supply chain, availability of cherry pickers and sorting staff, and the restrictions on an international workforce being able to enter Australia.
With so many factors weighing in the season ahead, ways in which to improve processes, speed up the ability to sort cherries while adhering to accuracy requirements, and in general leverage resources available, present challenges for cherry growers.
What has become apparent is that greater efficiencies across all areas of the harvest process is required, and newer technologies that fast-track through speed and accuracy cherry sorting, is part of ensuring that cherry growers minimise disruption.
Australian-based company, GP Graders, has set the benchmark in the development of world-class technologies that play a central role in sorting and grading cherries for distribution.
Their award-winning technologies are used world-wide, giving cherry growers equipment to alleviate the pressures associated with reduced workforce, heightened cherry grading requirements, and overall profitability.
GP Graders - A History of Innovation
Since 1985, GP Graders has been key to the development of innovative technologies and machinery for cherry growers to improve efficiencies, quality control, grading, and profits.
From humble beginnings in stone fruit and apple equipment grading supply in 1963, GP Graders has expanded their business to cater for the burgeoning cherry market with the realisation that cherry sorting techniques require careful, accurate grading. The process in itself is very repetitive and a tiring job that lacks stimulation for cherry pickers.
GP Graders knew that this process in particular needed to be disrupted and the expense of hand-sorting cherries substantiated the company’s investment in developing solutions that sort through imperfections in cherries and provide correct grading improving accuracy.
Today the company works with producers in 18 countries including Australia, Europe and the Americas, where cherry growers trust GP Graders’ cherry sorting technology to guide their grading procedures. Markets in Chile, Turkey, Greece, the USA and Italy all make use of GP Graders’ cherry sorting equipment.
Proudly Australian Owned and Operated
The Australian fruit and vegetable market is lauded as one of the best in the world. Manufacturing in Australia has taken many hits especially with the volatility of the economy and the high costs of manufacturing locally.
GP Graders has been determined to make an impact locally and using this knowledge, were able to expand internationally. Best practices were always part of the way the cherry and blueberry industries has grown in Australia, with many growers seeing the advantages of progression.
GP Graders’ AirJet Vision™ technologies for both cherries and blueberries were recently recognised with the Australian Made certifications. The certification distinguishes Australian made products from any internationally produced goods. Just as the Australian manufacturing industry is known for its quality, the country of origin symbol marks GP Graders’ equipment as trusted, recognised and accredited by third parties. Beyond the high perception of Australian goods, the Australian Made logo provides further guarantee of AirJet™ Cherry Vision’s reliability and quality to both domestic and international clients alike.
2020 is an uncertain time for most industries; produce growing is no exception. With the availability of picking and packing staff significantly reduced by lockdown restrictions and border movement, alternative solutions are required. Fortunately, the capability of grading technologies has progressed enough to substitute much of the human function in the production process. The removal of humans from the grading process tackles issues presented by the global health crisis head on. Progression towards a contactless packhouse has been the long-term direction of the industry for some time now, but the trend is now being accelerated by necessity.
The upcoming cherry season will be unlike any other we have previously had. Preparation for this season must involve making alternative arrangements for a diminished workforce. Without the labour force to pick and sort produce and without ulterior preparations, suppliers will be in for a very difficult time. Fortunately, innovations in cherry grading are reducing the need for human sorters to be involved in the production process.
Improving Products and Profitability
It seems that each new technological development that hits the cherry grading market is more impressive than the last. Sorting and grading equipment manufacturers are able to build upon the technologies they’ve already developed, meaning each new solution is more refined and more precise than its predecessors. AirJet Vision™, GP Graders’ latest grading technology offering, remains the most sophisticated cherry sorting equipment on the market, two years after its release.
The AirJet™ Cherry Vision grading system utilises the highest quality black and white, colour and near-infrared high definition cameras. Each individual cherry is photographed 30 times, with a total of 21,000 images of fruit taken every second – these figures remain industry leading. Produce size is graded via the use of several images of each individual cherry, ensuring precision sorting with all bases covered. A colour module guarantees accurate colour grades, which again offers growers another dimension on which to separate their produce. AirJet™ Cherry Vision’s unmatched camera technology system delivers market leading results in defect sorting.
With AirJet™ Cherry Vision, growers have access to unrivalled grading speed and precision; this increases their profitability by giving them new product categories and eliminating the need to hire human sorters. As colour, size and defect sorting systems become more advanced, cherries can be graded into more specific quality categories. For some producers, this opens up previously untapped markets, namely in export quality and frozen cherries. As cherry suppliers gain access to these more specific categories, they are able to meet a wider scope of market needs; this access to different spaces within the market is extremely productive to increasing profits. For consumers, this means there is a greater supply of these more specific product categories. Because of this, the advancement of cherry grading technology is providing benefit to both consumers and distributers.
Like all produce markets, the cherry grading industry is in a state of flux. The need for automation is at an all-time high and new releases to the market look to address this requirement. Today, innovative cherry grading equipment needs to improve profitability and product quality, but more urgently, it must fill the gap left by unavailable human sorters. For more information on cherry grading innovations, get in contact with GP Graders.