It’s been a very busy 18 months for our Inspection R&D team, announcing our next generation NIR platform Inspectra2, while also releasing four versions of Spectrim software and a big step forward for cherry grading with InVision Total View. Our controlled introduction of Inspectra2 for kiwifruit and apples in New Zealand has just finished, so I’d like to give an update on the very exciting results we’ve seen – Inspectra2 is definitely meeting our targets for leading performance and usability in production.
Last week my colleague Tim Marshall bit into a perfectly good looking apple and found the internal browning in the image above - he came straight to me as inspection systems product manager to complain about his negative eating experience. Tim, like most consumers, made his initial purchase based on the exterior appearance and feel of the apple. Having had a bad experience, he's unlikely to buy this brand again.
Visiting packhouses in California last week, I heard a constant theme of appreciation for Compac’s forward thinking and proactive attitude of continuous innovation. Investment in R&D and a focus on delivering incremental value for our customers has been an important part of Compac’s history, and continues to be necessary to ensure Spectrim delivers on its promise to maximize packhouse value.
We have sold more lanes of Spectrim for citrus than any other category including the single largest Spectrim install to Fowler Packing. Clear rot detection has been a difficult challenge for a lot of these packers with the only reliable method being manual graders in a UV tent. We are now releasing an additional IR wavelength for citrus packhouses that will help overcome this age-old problem. By using Spectrim for clear rot you can reduce the dependence on UV rooms resulting in a lower cost-per-pack, increased throughput and most importantly, more consistent products.
I’ve never been a fan of being told that our software needs to be more ‘simple’. This hasn't been the main goal – we’ve always focused on providing the maximum functionality and then, on working out how to make that both usable and flexible. Einstein has been attributed as saying “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” I’ve always read that as ‘maximize simplicity without compromising performance; make it do what you want and then make it simple’. I think of this in three logical steps: making the system fully functional, ensuring it is completely usable, and then maximizing flexibility.
We all know that skilled labor is becoming more difficult to find and increasingly expensive to keep. This is a particular concern in America where a labor shortage means that packhouses are competing for staff by accommodating, transporting and feeding workers, and yet there’s still no guarantee they’ll show up for work. Labor is one of a packhouse’s largest overheads and leveraging technology can reduce this number and make the packhouse more efficient. Automating tasks with machinery allows you to be more flexible and accurate, positively affecting the bottom line.
Our industry is currently experiencing a high rate of development and what is available now will soon be yesterday’s technology. Because technology is moving faster than ever, we designed Spectrim as a future-proof platform.
In our recent customer survey on what packhouse managers care about, the most important factor was ‘quality and consistency of packed produce’.
Following my previous blog post, Ten reasons to blemish grade, talking about external fruit grading, it seemed only natural to cover the importance of internal fruit grading next.
As New Zealand’s kiwifruit season was drawing to a close for 2016, we took a day out to head down the road and catch up with Hume Pack-N-Cool to see how their season had gone. Since 1984, Hume and Compac have been working together. This was the year that Compac founder Hamish Kennedy was building his very first grading machine for his parents’ kiwifruit orchard in Kerikeri. At the same time, Hume founder Dave Hume was building his first coolstore in Katikati.