New Compac field research unit to study the fresh produce industry’s most challenging issues

Posted by Marijke Bellemans on Aug 27, 2018 12:17:17 PM

Drakensburg, South Africa, August 27, 2018Compac, part of TOMRA Food, has launched a new Field Research Unit which can be deployed directly into the field to research the industry’s most challenging fresh produce issues. The new state-of-the-art laboratory, which is equipped with a broad range of sophisticated analytical sensor technologies from across TOMRA, is the first of its kind for the fresh produce industry. The Field Research Unit was launched at the 10th Citrus Research International Symposium in Drakensburg, South Africa (August 19-22) and begins customer-based testing next week.

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Compac delivers packhouse automation systems for sorting fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) based on weight, size, shape, colour, surface blemishes and internal quality. Both Compac and TOMRA have research and sensor development centers in Europe and New Zealand, however there can be challenges accessing produce, particularly with shipping restrictions associated with infected and diseased produce.

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The unique advantage of the Field Research Unit (FRU) is that it can be deployed in market, close to the source of produce, and at any stage of the supply chain from the orchard through to the point-of-sale. The data collected can be analyzed to improve produce-sorting and decision making throughout the supply chain, as well as helping to drive new technology research and future product development.

The FRU is equipped with benchtop spectrometers, hyperspectral imaging equipment, texture analysers, the new Compac Inspectra2 internal inspection system for fresh produce, and the TOMRA QVision optimized for protein, moisture and fat analysis.  A converted 40-foot shipping container is used to facilitate easy transport to hotspots where fresh produce needs to be investigated.

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“Compac’s new project is a welcome initiative for the citrus industry and we look forward to being able to work with the unit in advancing this important technology within the citrus industry”, affirmed Dr. Sean Moore, IPM Portfolio Manager with Citrus Research International, during the event.

The four-day CRI Symposium is a biennial gathering to share findings of recent research conducted on behalf of the southern African citrus industry and features an international mix of keynote speakers.

Dean Barker, Director of Research & Development Projects at Compac, commented: “For our customers, the Field Research Unit has the unrivalled convenience of bringing a sophisticated test laboratory right to their front door. This is confirmation of Compac’s agile response to customers’ needs.”

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The demands of feeding the growing global population are driving the need to know more about each piece of produce as it is sorted in the packhouse and in repack centers.  Advanced Compac sensors are already deployed in packhouses but measuring other attributes can further improve sorting to optimize productivity, reduce waste and maximize customer value.

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Marijke Bellemans

Written by Marijke Bellemans