Weighing machine for blueberry. How to choose the best one?

Weighing machine for blueberry

The growing labour costs and lack of staff motivated enough to work with fruits and vegetables increase interest in automation in the agriculture sector. This trend is noticeable in the European market. In recent years, more and more packing companies and innovative growers have turned to machinery, while many still consider moving that way. To meet their needs and expectations, we prepared a guideline on factors that need to be analysed by investors looking for a perfect weighing machine for blueberry and other fruits. 

Blueberry weigh & fill machine – all you need to know before investment 

Let’s put it straightforwardly: automated fruit processing offers great vantages; however, it does not have to be a medication for all your business pains and problems. To succeed in this field, you need some knowledge and awareness, or someone who will guide you and help to choose the most suitable machinery for your needs. And this is not an easy task. The rules of selection might be tricky – the biggest, the quickest or the most expensive machine is not always the best option (considering Overall Equipment Effectiveness – OEE). To explain this statement, we take a closer look at the factors you must consider to buy a machine that will increase your packing performance. 

Blueberry weigh & fill – machines for gentlemen 

Working in such a demanding market as blueberry is, you must keep the highest standards of fruits. Many retailers and supermarkets preach the quality-first approach when it comes to fresh products. As a result of that, they are willing to pay more for good-looking, crisp, shiny fruits without bruising, and – on the contrary – do not want to buy products that show defects. In case of blueberries, sellers expect fruits covered by the natural powdery white wax on the surface, the so-called bloom, that protects blueberries. The lack of bloom mainly regards products with long-haul shipments, e.g. exported to Europe from China or Peru, however, it can be a challenge with automated packaging, too. That is why you need to pay a lot of attention to how your machines treat fruits, especially soft fruits that can be damaged easily. A careful, gentle processing will allow you to sell premium fruits and prolong their shelf life. Usually, the horizontal (linear) weigh & fills show a lower drop than vertical ones, thus they are found as safer for the berry fruits. However, the type of machine is not only one factor of delicacy. Apart from lower drop height, the machinery manufacturers use multiple concepts to provide better care for fragile types: silicon pads, curtains and belts – all these details should be subjects of consideration for the investor. 

packing equipment for blueberries 

Weighing machine for blueberry: now and then perspectives 

We start with something that might sound obvious to some of you, however, it’s a real must-have aspect while talking about this kind of investment. The suitable machine needs to comply with your present amount of processed fruits and the volume you plan to process in the future. The present demand and the future possibilities – you have to consider both perspectives while buying a new blueberry weigh & fill. The packing equipment worth investing in can develop your business and boost your production capacity next season. And the volume of fruits you will pack will directly determine ROI.

To enlarge the number of tons you pack, a bigger machine would be useful. The weigh & fills are available in multiple versions, including 4, 6, 10, 12 & 16-scale variants. Until your weigh & fill machine is equipped with an option of partial cycle release (e.g. minimum 4 punnets can be released per cycle at a time), you still can process smaller orders with the big machinery. 

Accuracy – a key to your business success 

The more accurate machine you use, the fewer fruits you give away for free. The precision of weighing is a core factor influencing your earnings and ROI. What does it mean in practice? The accuracy of weigh & fills is given in grams, and it describes how many grams a single punnet can be overweight. For example, if the machine declares 4 grams of accuracy, it can pack up to 4 grams of fruits more to a punnet than the nominal weight of a packaging. In other words, every punnet going to the seller weighs up to 204 grams, and you get paid only for 200 grams of fruits. Obviously, there is no big deal in case of a single punnet or even 1000 punnets, but if you process 500 tons of blueberries per year, the difference rises to a very significant level of wasted money. To be more precise, we talk about tens of thousands of euros a year. 

There are no perfect (0-gram overweight) weigh & fills on the market. It’s impossible due to the specification of blueberry fruits. The best linear machines available work with 2-gram accuracy. Although more accurate blueberries packing equipment is more expensive than less accurate machinery, the investment in top-end devices will quickly return because of money saved on product give-away. Another aspect worth considering in terms of weighing precision is the machine’s compatibility with e-weight systems. 

Speed of packing equipment for blueberries 

Simply saying, the faster machine, the bigger the volume of fruits processed. The fact is that the pace of weighing and packing matters, however, you should remember that we still talk about agricultural machinery, not racing cars. Speed of operating is relevant, but it should not be overrated. There are two more important things while discussing the speed performance of the blueberry weight and fill. Firstly, you need to double-check, if the machinery maintains precision while it speeds up. Some devices are less accurate when they raise the tempo of packing, thus it reduces their efficiency. Secondly, the speed of packing depends on the whole line, not only on a weigh & fill. To reach the full capacity, the system needs to be able to feed the fruits to the weigh & fill. Otherwise, the other devices simply waste the potential of very quick weigh & fill. 

Conclusions? The tools’ integration is more important than a high-speed single device. The art of machinery combination requires professional experience and some knowledge, but it pays off big with better OEE and your company’s performance. Once the line is integrated, a fast weigh & fill profits quickly. A quick weigh & fill machine well-integrated with the rest of the blueberry line allows the investor to pack more punnets and generate more money on sales. Moreover, the efficient blueberry line allows the investor to replace old, less productive packing equipment and save space in the pack house, thus it optimises the room you need to run your business. 

Versatile weigh & fill machine for blueberry 

An investment in automated blueberry packing takes a change of perspective: here and now is not enough anymore. In order to maximise ROI, an investor should be open to new business opportunities, search for market niches and be ready to adjust to the upcoming trends. To do that, you must be equipped with a machine able to process different types of fruits and vegetables, both fresh and frozen products. 

The consumption of blueberries and customers’ preferences change rapidly. Several major trends are powered by packaging trends. Nowadays, we observe a growing interest in eco-friendly punnets as well as bigger volumes (e.g. 500, 1000 grams). A flexible packing machine, compatible with different box types (plastic punnets, clamshells, cardboard punnets, shakers or buckets) allows you to keep up with trending and meet the retailers’ and supermarkets’ requirements. 

Ergonomics – a step towards your staff 

Another major aspect of automation in the fruit industry is access to different parts of machines. Why is it so important? The open construction of machinery enables staff to reach the elements that need to be washed, thus reducing the period of everyday cleaning. The less time you spend on washing and maintaining, the more time the machine works and makes money. Openable crossfeed conveyor, removable elements (e.g. hooper scales), or easy-to-clean materials (e.g. silicon pads) – all of them make cleaning easier and quicker.  

Let’s explore more. The world-class machines feature an operator-friendly design, a simple interface, and sturdy construction. Additionally, it should be easy for adjustments and changeovers (preferably without tools). At first glance, they seem to be irrelevant details, but these nuances play a huge role overall and influence your staff’s motivation.

Blueberry packing equipment: trust the brands 

A need for automation across different industries rises and many companies want to take benefit of this trend. As a result, more and more companies enter the market of manufacturers and sell fruit processing machinery. Not all of them can maintain high standards. The ability to provide qualitative hi-tech devices requires know-how, time spent on R&D, professional experience in the fruit and vegetable industry, and skilled staff. All these assets are not easily achievable – it takes years to gain them all. That is why, when looking for a reliable weighing machine for blueberries, you should aim at the manufacturers who have major experience and primarily focus on the fruit and vegetable market. 

Maszyny do pakowania i sortowania borówek - automation of blueberry production

Service and support 

The final factor determining the selection of a weighing machine for blueberries is the service and support offered by a seller. Why is it so important? Even the best, brand-new machinery might fail occasionally, and every single stoppage costs you lots of money. The broken machine turns off the whole line and makes your staff idle. That is why you should a machinery provider that secures a quick-response service crew and ongoing on-call support. We truly recommend working with a company that guarantees 24h service response and can reach your destination as soon as possible. It will be priceless during the high season. Additionally, the service should be equipped with qualified, experienced engineers who have access to spare parts. Otherwise, you will be forced to wait long days for a particular part to be shipped from another country or continent. Some top-notch machines offer a remote service thanks to the dedicated software, so a technician solves a problem without a direct visit to your site. 

Secure the results – invest with a professional integrator

If you are interested in the automation of blueberry processing but simultaneously feel a bit overwhelmed by the large number of details that need to be considered before the investment, do not hesitate to reach out Milbor PMC experts. Fill out the form below and benefit from our knowledge and 10+ years of industry experience. The consultation is free of charge. Our team member will contact you to find your needs and expectations as quickly as possible.

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