One of the core functions of a packhouse is the accurate and precise weighing of produce for subsequent packing and distribution. Modern packhouses commonly utilize electronic sorting equipment to increase throughput and reduce costs. Within your packhouse, having an accurate, precise set of “weighing scales” is critical to ensure maximum yield through minimized giveaway, and to protect your brand by guaranteeing that every bag meets your customer's target weight requirements.
In this blog, we discuss the technology behind effective weighing systems in the fresh produce industry.
Precision and accuracy
The key indicators of good weighing are accuracy and precision. In relation to measurement systems, accuracy refers to the degree of conformity to the unit’s true value - simply put, how close the measurement is to the truth. Precision is indicative of the repeatability or consistency of the measurement; how close two or more repeated measurements are to each other. Achieving a high level of accuracy is not very useful if the precision of the measurements is low and vice versa.
Compac delivers an industry leading weighing solution as part of its sorting platform, but what does it take to achieve such a solution? It is a combination of excellent design, accurate implementation and sound maintenance regimes. Compac’s mechanical hardware, electronics and software are built around optimizing the weighing process of the Sorter. The training and subsequent service provided also ensures for continuous in-season performance of the equipment.
The mechanical setup of the weigh section is very important. Each set of weigh bars are individually calibrated and tested before leaving the production facility, and this is process is carefully and precisely repeated on-site. The weigh section is bolted to a plinth which is free-standing from the rest of the sorter. This isolates the weigh section from vibration caused by the rest of the equipment.
Compac Nexus electronics
The collection of weighing data is the next step in the weighing process. This is where our in-house designed control electronics, Nexus, creates value. Nexus is the electronic hardware for our Sorter and it dramatically improves the weighing performance of the system due to its simple design, improved electronics and filtering algorithms. The Nexus system architecture is a minimalistic design which uses less connection points between components; for example the weigh amplifiers are now integrated into the HAL controllers. This integration reduces signal interference and noise introduced from electrical connections and external electrical signals, while improving hardware reliability. The electronics feature improved hardware signal filtering and digital signal processing which further improves the accuracy of the weighing.
Our Nexus software system also utilizes a rolling average weighing algorithm to provide greater levels of accuracy and precision. This has vastly improved the static and dynamic weighing of the machine, as it compensates for even minute variances in weights introduced from the mechanical system. Importantly, the filters and algorithms of the Nexus electronics also improves the weighing performance of older mechanical systems, including non-Compac equipment. The upgrade to Nexus electronics have resulted in a significant improvement in weighing accuracy for an 11 year old Compac line – Eastpack - Collins Lane, 8-Lane pre-sorter.
Maintenance and calibration
Regular maintenance and calibration is necessary for all equipment in the packhouse. Compac ensures that equipment operators and maintenance teams are trained to clean, maintain and calibrate the weighing equipment during installation. This ensures that the equipment is calibrated and ready before every production batch in order to deliver the highest level of accuracy and precision. Operators are trained to understand the indicators of weighing accuracy and local service teams are available to resolve any technical weighing issues. This guarantees the best weighing performance throughout the season.
Building on the foundation of Compac’s weighing solution, is our suite of intelligent software optimizers. The optimizers allow the packhouse to increase their pack-out and yield, reducing produce give-away on each pack. Instead of the operator playing around with weight bands manually, the software performs this accurately and automatically.
If you would like to know more about Compac weighing solutions or how to upgrade your Sorter to the latest Nexus platform, please feel free to contact us.