“Thanks to a catalogue of more than 160 models of machine and 50 of packaging, Sorma is the only player in the sector able to design an entire processing line from A to Z,” states Mario Mercadini, the company’s Marketing Manager. “This is exemplified by the new stone fruit plant designed, installed and commissioned for a big Spanish customer. This summer fruit processing line is the largest in the world in terms of daily production capacity and it embodies all the performance and leading-edge technology of Sorma machines.” The plant covers all processing phases: from the point where the fruit enters the plant via continuous-cycle bin/box tippers to the washing/treatment phase, and onward to optical grading by colour, shape and internal and external quality, packaging in punnets or in boxes with pockets, and the labelling, palletisation and strapping of the packs, with complete product traceability.
The most outstanding amongst the Sorma technologies installed, which make it globally unique in terms of production capacity, flexibility and level of automation, include: The optical sorter machine with HyperVision, installed on all 21 grading lines. With an operating system using 9 cameras per line and the InstanDefect-AI proprietary artificial vision software package, based entirely on Artificial Intelligence, HyperVision is able to grade fruits’ external and internal quality with a product grading accuracy unprecedented in the sector, an essential technology fundamental for the efficiency of all the rest of the plant. The innovative trolley fruit conveyor system installed in the sorter machine, which enables processing of all the various types of fruit (generally specific models are used for each variety). This plant is therefore exceptionally flexible. In fact, it is able to process up to four types of fruit simultaneously, with a choice of two processing options depending on the fruit’s degree of ripeness, accurately detected by the HyperVision optical systems: all or some of the fruit can be sent directly to the packaging phase, i.e. to the packing machines and then automatically on to the palletisers; or the fruit (or some of it) can be sent to a system for automatically placing the pre-graded product in bins for transfer to cold stores, ready for use at a later date depending on demand from customers, when it will be fed into the final packaging phase. All this is completely automated: the processing flows for the various types of incoming fruit are managed by a centralised supervision system programmed and monitored by just one operator. The plant is able to process nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums, Paraguayo flat peaches, apples and Rocha pears (with a dedicated infeed line with submergers and relative water channels for the most gentle handling). “This project,” states Daniele Severi, Director of the Technology Division at Sorma Ibérica, “far surpasses anything previously designed and installed for processing summer fruit, in terms of both production capacity, which may be as high as 1 million kilos of fruit processed in a single daily shift, and the level of automation applied, which has enabled a 15-20% reduction in staff numbers in daily processing, with a direct incidence of labour costs on ROI (Return On Investment). The plant is designed to meet the general need within the fruit and vegetable sector for a flexible, functional response to modern distribution’s varying demands.”
Aporo II, the revolutionary packing machine
At Fruit Attraction, Sorma also presented Aporo II, the revolutionary packing machine based on research developed in New Zealand, for which the Group is European dealer. Using a series of robotic arms, the machine places up to 8 fruits in the pockets simultaneously, and with the aid of cameras it arranges them, as the operator prefers, all with the stalk/stem facing in the same direction or with the best (most brightly coloured) side in view. The new Aporo II version retains all the benefits of the original model dating from 2018, combined with a more compact structure, which saves space, and the ability to pack with the pockets already placed in the box. The range of processable fruit is also extended: as well as apples, the machine can now also efficiently pack stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines and plums.
More low environmental impact solutions
Last but not least, to meet customer companies’ needs to reduce or eliminate the plastic in packaging, Sorma Group offers its low environmental impact solutions. These include the Sormabag in woven net, the lightest monopolymer pack available on the market, produced with 40% less plastic than standard nets, the compostable line, and to conclude the innovative Sormapaper, the plastic-free range available in various packaging sizes in breathable, tough, 100% recyclable FSC-certified paper and cellulose net. The Sormapaper package sizes also include the Paper Vertbag, which combines all the characteristics of the original plastic design – large printing surface area, light weight, strength, breathability and visibility of contents – with the use of raw materials from renewable sources.