The team at Hallmark Cherries south of Young celebrated the installation of their new state-of-the-art cherry sorting machine on Friday afternoon.
Owner Trevor Hall and wife Siri, and daughter Lucinda Burgess and her husband Matt, proudly showed off the Italian Unitec machine to more than 80 people who attended the low-key function, including staff, local and interstate growers, industry people, suppliers and business people who had contributed to the installation.
Hallmark is now only the second orchard in Australia to possess the machine, the other being a smaller two-lane in South Australia.
The machine’s main function is high definition cameras which detect softness, colour, defects and size to create consistent production across the line.
“We wanted to wait until they knew the machine would offer strong cameras and angles so the point splits – which cause up to 70 per cent of the damage – could be taken out,” Trevor said.
The machine also saves two thirds of the labour involved with manual sorting, replacing the need for roughly 80 casual workers. Trevor said the machine offers the approximately 100 workers remaining on the belt more opportunity for rotation.
“You get consistency in size, colour, defects – every box is the same, it’s very accurate,” Trevor said. “I’m very happy – blind Freddy could see how good it is.”
The process of the new machine begins with a bin tipper, releasing 180kg of cherries into a water dip/elevator. The cherries then travel through a cluster cutter to create single stems, before a sizer removes smaller cherries, stems and leafs.
The cherries travel through a hydro-cooler, before passing through the Unitec Vision 2 Grader cameras and Unical 200 Cherry Sorter. This stage of the process sees each cherry pass through the 16-lane machine where they’re photographed numerous times to detect quality and to determine their destination.
Trevor – who started out in the cherry industry in 1968 – said he never imagined a machine could function to this degree.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.