TOMRA Food reveals new, AI-powered fruit sorting and grading at IFPA Global Produce Show
By TOMRA Food
TOMRA Food launched this week two new sorting and grading solutions at the International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce & Floral Show in California: the all-new TOMRA Neon pre-grader for machine-harvested fresh blueberries and the new-generation Spectrim X series, which leverages Deep Learning for unparalleled sorting and grading precision. Both solutions affirm the increasing role of artificial intelligence in TOMRA’s technologies.
The IFPA trade association’s exhibition and conference, formerly known as PMA, ran from 19-21 October at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. TOMRA Food was present on Stand 3304, where the TOMRA Neon pre-grader and Spectrim X series will be on display.
The TOMRA stand also boasted an interactive hologram display which showcases the working principles of the TOMRA Neon and Spectrim X series, as well as other TOMRA Fresh Food sorting and grading solutions including TOMRA 5S Advanced sorting platform, Inpectra2 for non-invasive internal defect grading, CURO filling system, and KATO precision grading system.
TOMRA’s stand also showcased hologram footage of several solutions from TOMRA Processed Food: the TOMRA 3A optical sorter for unwashed potatoes, TOMRA 5A premium bulk sorting and size grader, TOMRA 5B optical belt sorting machine, and TOMRA 5C premium optical sorter.
All-new TOMRA Neon
Although automated blueberry harvesting is faster and less costly than manual harvesting, it brings unwanted debris and fruit clusters to processing and packing lines for the fresh blueberry market. To address these challenges, TOMRA Neon pre-grades machine-harvested blueberries before transferring the fruit directly onto TOMRA’s KATO260 optical sorter and grader. It is durable, easy to clean, and compact, making it a perfect fit for any existing blueberry line.
TOMRA Neon optimizes optical grader efficiency by removing more than 95% of clusters and more than 90% of green and red berries. It boasts a throughput capacity of up to 500 berries per second and can maintain a speed of up to 280 berries per second even when fruit removal is as high as 40%. To identify, differentiate, and remove unwanted clusters, undersize fruit, and unripe fruit, TOMRA Neon harnesses artificial intelligence. It was prototype-tested over two-and-a-half years in varied machine-harvested conditions in North America and New Zealand.
New-generation Spectrim X series
TOMRA continues to develop its LUCAi™ Deep Learning AI platform, first introduced in 2017, to expand its applications across solutions; the first of these is Spectrim X series. Developed by a team of industry-leading scientists, engineers, researchers and experts, Spectrim X series brings to the apple market TOMRA’s extensive knowledge and collective experience developing commodity-specific AI powered solutions.
Deep Learning technology uses pre-trained models to teach computers how to process data, such as complex patterns in photos. Spectrim X series assesses thousands of high-resolution, multi-channel fruit images every second. Then it cross-references what it sees with vast amounts of data to make grading decisions to meet precise market demands. This data has been captured from TOMRA machines across the globe and precisely labelled by TOMRA’s Data Science Team. During 18 months of real-world testing in the USA, and New Zealand, Spectrim X series showed a significant leap forward in performance compared to its predecessor.
While the Spectrim X series integrates LUCAi™ technology, existing Spectrim customers who grade apples can enjoy the benefits with the LUCAi™ upgrade package. New ‘plug-and-play’ Deep Learning models, pre-trained by vast datasets, that can precisely detect and classify even the trickiest apple defects, such as splits and punctures across multiple varieties. LUCAi™ also allows customers to easily adjust the severity of grading parameters – something which previously had to be done by experienced operators – to cater for seasonal dynamics and market preferences. And the pre-trained intelligence of this upgrade is customizable.
One of the first adopters of this technology was Freshco, a leading New Zealand fruit and vegetable grower and exporter. Freshco’s Manager of Technology and Machinery, Robin Mudgeway, commented: “Spectrim with LUCAi™ is a game changer. We had to work a lot harder around the stem area mainly for splits and punches. Now you don't have to do the work anymore, LUCAi™ does it for you. This means you can keep production up at a speed without a lot of manual grading on the line.”
TOMRA continues to invest personnel and infrastructure to develop solutions powered by Deep Learning, harnessing AI to solve the most complex sorting and grading problems. The next LUCAi™ release will focus on cherries - adding Deep Learning technology to the InVision2 cabinet. TOMRA’s LUCAi™ will then improve operations across other commodities, including avocados, cherries, citrus, kiwifruit and stone fruit.