Time is money. Stop wasting it on long blueberry machine cleaning

blueberry machine cleaning

Taking good care of the packing equipment is necessary for all growers and companies operating in the blueberry sector. It requires both regular maintenance service and daily cleaning. The second aspect highly depends on the machine’s construction. G3, the latest weigh & fill machine by American manufacturer A&B Packing Equipment, proves how the machinery’s design makes everyday cleaning easier, quicker and more profitable. 

Safety first: for the customers’ sake 

All food producers, including fresh fruits and vegetables, have to comply with the sanitary norms provided by the authorities and industry organisations. These hygienic standards were set to prevent major health and digestion problems for the customers, who might suffer because of different contamination, dust, and chemicals. Talking about fresh production, we need to raise the subject of bacteria, moisture, heat, mould growth, or even rusty elements as potential threats to fruits and vegetables and, as a consequence, to people who eat them. That is why the strict standards of fresh food processing must be complied with at each stage of the production chain: harvesting, sorting, packing, storing, and logistics. The companies that fail to meet the norms lag behind the competitors, as well as might deal with some negative image, legal consequences or financial fines. Sounds bad, right? Prevention is better than cure, so the majority of food producers pay a lot of attention to regular cleaning of their equipment and do their best to secure a suitable environment for fruit processing. Not all of them realise that the way they wash their tools directly affects the financial outlook of their business. How is it possible? 

Blueberry machine cleaning: time is money 

The link between washing and financial outcomes is simple. The more time you spend on real production activities, such as sorting, packing, labelling or traysealing, the more money you earn. Simultaneously, time spent on all actions which do not bring you closer to the final product, is a waste of money. For example, equipment changeovers, maintenance services, facility breakdown, waiting for spare parts, staff shifts, machinery cleaning, etc. – all of them take time but do not add any value for a buyer. Obviously, all the mentioned events are mandatory and you cannot simply skip them in order to run a successful production. However, the period you spend on them affects your earnings. 

Let’s take the example of blueberry machine cleaning. Our growers’ experience shows that working with berries requires daily cleaning because of the fruit’s specificity. Overripe and soft fruits can emit juices and stain all elements they touch. Moreover, the blueberries feature wax bloom. On the one hand, this specific cover is expected by the sellers, mainly supermarket chains, as it symbolises a healthy, firm and natural fruit for the final customers. On the other hand, the wax bloom makes the machinery more dirty while being processed.  These impurities might cause aforementioned, health-related problems and lower machinery performance, too. Avoiding the worst-case scenario, many growers and packing organisations clean their equipment every day, and let’s treat it as a good practice. 

So, if it is needed to clean the machinery once a day (8-hour shift), it matters a lot whether it takes 30 or 120 minutes. In the second option, every day, you waste 90 minutes of precious time you could spend on operating and making money. These 33 hours a month (90 minutes x 22 working days) can be easily translated into measurable sums of cash. How many punnets can you pack at this interval instead of mandatory cleaning? The importance of quick and smooth washing arises along with the high season period. 

Open-access equipment gives unlimited possibilities for blueberry machine cleaning.

Open-access equipment gives unlimited possibilities for blueberry machine cleaning.

Machinery designer takes responsibility for time of blueberry machine cleaning 

The time of washing the blueberry equipment mainly depends on two factors. Firstly, there are skills and motivation of your staff – they can be trained or improved over time. Secondly, the construction of the blueberry machine. It cannot be easily changed, if at all. 

The machine structure significantly influences its cleaning and here come five reasons that back up the claim.   

  1. The way the equipment treats blueberries affects the volume of spillage and juicy contamination. Some machines offer fruits a gentle treatment – thanks to that, berries keep the natural wax coating and avoid getting crushed while being processed. It is an extremely important aspect as the bruised fruits are not eligible for selling and they emit more spillages and dirt. The more gently your machine treats blueberries, the less cleaning you need. 
  2. Simplicity matters. The complex, complicated structure of the installation hinders efficient cleaning. Some devices feature tiny spaces, holes, narrow recesses and so on that are not easily accessible. The dirt and moisture tend to accumulate in that spots and it is really hard to get rid of them from these places. 
  3. The machine should be made out of durable, food-safe, easy-to-clean, and moisture-resistance components. Stainless steel, high-quality plastic (e.g. HDPE), or silicon can be given as materials that work best in a fruit environment. 
  4. All electrical parts, e.g. cables, fuses, and engine, should be well-protected from water and detergents. Some manufacturers cover electrical components well, so the machine can be washed with a hose and running water. 
  5. A modular construction enables the user to disassemble particular elements for cleaning. This feature helps a lot when it comes to regular cleansing. By removing some parts of the machine, the user saves a noticeable amount of time and is able to clean the element very precisely. 
Cleaning of blueberry equipment

Openable cross feed and removable scale hooper with movable silicone pads facilitate quick washing of the equipment.

G3 Evolution – fast cleaning of blueberry packing equipment 

Let’s put theory into practice and take a look at the washing aspect of G3 Evolution by American manufacturer A&B Packing Equipment. This versatile, precise and quick packing solution presents some features that are out of reach of its competitors. One of the main benefits of G3 is full hygienic design. What does it mean? 

The engineers of A&B Packing Equipment noticeably moderated their flagship weigh & fill. The latest generation gained a more robust design – it’s easier to access, clean and operate, compared to the previous versions. The control cabinet is side-mounted, which makes the machinery more approachable. Additionally, the cross feed and vibe pans frame can be lifted up, so the operator can get to the particular element of the device easily.

Open-access equipment gives unlimited possibilities for blueberry machine cleaning.

G3 Evolution: cured, ovoid elements made from stainless steel to shorten the cleaning procedure.​

Better access is important, but it is not the only factor in cleaning discussion. The blueberry and other fruit types packing machine has vibe pans equipped with anti-spill lips, limiting the amount of fruits on the ground. Moreover, key parts that touch the fruits are easily removable (e.g. weighing cups, silicon pads, silicon curtains, trays, vibe panels, and throats), so you can clean them quickly and successfully without any effort. 

G3 requires warm water and a sponge to be cleaned. It is worth adding that this weigh & fill is equipped with a main channel tube with sanitary tri-clamps to access internal air lines and wiring. Thanks to that, it is safe to use running water while washing. Last but not least comes the aspect of gentle treatment of blueberries. The G3’s constructors designed some major improvements to treat the fragile fruits as delicately as possible. Silicon curtains, silicone pads, silicon cross feed belt, redesigned throats, and lowered drop reduce the amount of damaged and bruised berries. This is another reason why working with G3 Evolution is a tidy and efficient way of packing blueberries and other types of fruits. 

Save priceless time thanks to tailored-made packing automation solutions

All these examples make G3 an extremely competitive, modern machine that meets the needs of result-oriented growers and packing companiesThanks to shortening stoppages dedicated to machinery cleaning, the G3 operators can use their time most effectively, increase the number of final goods, and – as a result – earn more money in the same operating periods.

Want to find out, if the weigh & fill is suitable to your present needs and future production plans? Or do you need help with estimating how much time you spent on the cleaning procedure? Milbor PMC experts are here to assist you. Do not hesitate to fill out the form below and let us contact you to discuss various solutions for automated blueberry packing.  


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