"The citrus industry is one of the most suited for the implementation of complete warehouse automation solutions because of its production volumes and the duration of its campaigns," said Jaime Mendizábal, commercial director of Maf Roda, manufacturer of automation technology solutions for the fresh fruit and vegetable sector.
"Facilities that remain active practically all year round are also capable of recovering the investment in technological automation solutions in a short period of time. Therefore, and not surprisingly, technological innovations in citrus post-harvest machinery aim for the complete automation of all processes carried out in a citrus warehouse in order to reduce costs and increase the production capacity per hour. Even more so in these turbulent times," he said.
For example, a standard Maf Roda pre-sorting line can process hundreds of tons per day with only 5 operators. "This allows a clear reduction in labor costs and a quick recovery of the installation costs, since it makes it possible to double shifts much more easily. However, when it comes to complete automation of the processes of a citrus plant, we are not talking exclusively about pre-sorting and packing lines, with systems such as the Pomone IV, or about quality analysis and the detection of external defects, like that of the Globalscan 7 - Viotec, or Brix levels, with Maf Roda's Insight. We are also talking about the handling of boxes and bins in the warehouse with autonomous vehicles, known as AGVs, or the management of warehouse efficiency and productivity with systems based on CMMS and OEE."
"In Spain there are already several citrus facilities managing the handling of boxes and bins in the warehouse with Maf Roda AGVs, in the style of large logistics warehouses. This has aroused great interest among the biggest fruit and vegetable plants at international level and we hope that the implementation of these autonomous vehicles will happen within the next 3 years in all the plants accounting for the largest productions at a domestic level," said the company's commercial director.
These autonomous vehicles, which the multinational officially presented at the latest edition of Fruit Attraction, are a great step forward in the field of automation. These vehicles, which replace forklifts, have a high production capacity and are specially designed for the fruit and vegetable sector, thereby meeting its specific needs. One of the special features is their box grippers and adaptable bins. Also, their capacity to micro-recharge while in operation gives them great autonomy and allows them to keep working steadily during long production days.
"Many citrus plants rely on Maf Roda's technology for the automation of their warehouses, both nationally and internationally. The main trading companies in Valencia and Murcia carry out the sorting of their citrus fruits in a Pomone IV with Globalscan," said Jaime Mendizábal.
Maf Roda is currently the leader in the sector, with more than 80% of the market share in Spain. It has also continued to consolidate this leadership with the launch of the six most important new facilities in the domestic sector, both conventional and organic, in addition to other new medium and smaller citrus facilities that have also been put into operation this season.