Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics company, has signed an agency and distribution agreement with Global Pac Technologies, a joint venture between US company Van Doren Sales and the New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group.
According to Robotics Plus the deal will see the company’s robotic apple packers go global. Robotics Plus CEO Steve Saunders points out that Van Doren and Jenkins have a presence in almost every packhouse in New Zealand, Australia and the US. “We see enormous potential in our new relationship with Global Pac Technologies.”
The company expects its robotic apple packers go global. “The deal, which will initially target the US, Australian and New Zealand markets, is fuelling a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus as industry demand for its innovation grows”, the company says.
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Jamie Lunam, General Manager of Jenkins, says that apple packhouses already use automation extensively for sorting and grading. “But the process of arranging apples in trays for export is still highly labour intensive”, he emphasises. Labour shortages are a major and growing concern in New Zealand and many other food producing countries.
Van Doren CEO Brett Pittsinger says the global apple industry has been packing apples the same way for decades. “It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm amongst packhouses when they see the potential of this technology.”
The Robotics Plus apple packer identifies and places apples in their trays, and has the ability to safely handle up to 120 apples per minute which is the equivalent of two people.