InnoFresh Packing further improves automated line for packing grapes in punnets
Grapes are now packaged with absolutely no difference in height and transport speed even though the pilot line had a limited fall height and right angled transport movement.
World’s first automated grape-packaging line further improved
InnoFresh Packing, the joint venture between the Budelpack Group and IQ Packing set up in December 2015, started out packaging grapes into punnets in an entirely automated manner. A pilot line was built to this end that had a capacity of 1,200 punnets per hour.
After the first six months − during which grapes were packaged for two clients including the Greenery − the pilot line underwent a major technical improvement between mid-March and late May. The line has since been re-installed in Hazeldonk, at our partner IQ Packing’s premises.
The level of automation is necessary to arrive at a packing cost price that is so appealing that grape exporters overseas will want to pack their grapes in the Netherlands.
From Phase 1 to Phase 2 in the near future
The first phase from December until the current day was and is about technical development. This has been implemented and will be further tested over the coming period. To this end we intend to expand our existing client base. The objective is to have scaled up capacity to 3,600 punnets an hour with a cost price that can compete with that abroad in time for the overseas season. By then, the line will also have been prepared for expansion to include a top-seal packing line.
During the third and final phase, in all expectation during 2017, the line will be readied for the other packing innovations including a cardboard variation on the punnet.
The many advantages of packing grapes in the Netherlands
“Packing grapes in the Netherlands ensures that the client-order decoupling point is shifted from the country of origin to our country,” explains Peter Nieuwkerk. “Retailers want to decide which packaging they want to provide to consumers as late as possible. If grapes are imported pre-packaged it’s like the Model T-Ford: you can choose anything as long as it’s in a 500 g punnet. This will definitely change from now on.”
The automated line combined with increasing chain optimisation make it possible to pack grapes in the Netherlands with increasingly high care. This has various advantages:
- Grapes can be imported unpackaged, which means 30% more kilogrammes fit in a reefer transport;
- The post-arrival, time-consuming inspection of pre-packaged product can now be conducted on the packing line. Poor products won’t be packed in other words;
- Client-specific labelling takes place in-line on the packing line and therefore requires no additional activity;
- Packing in the Netherlands makes it possible to present grapes in packaging innovations. The initial sketches have been completed. Think of, for example, special packaging for sweet or seedless grapes so it is easier for consumers to recognise them.