Tomra has opened its new Fresh Food’s Field Research Centre in Waikato, New Zealand. The facility’s inauguration was an opportunity for the company to showcase its cutting-edge technology from its purpose-built, world class facility, which brings together all aspects of innovation and development manufacturing from field test orchards through to technology commercialisation in a single location.
The two-level building hosts 3,300m² of factory and 1,800m² of office and R&D space. The event brought together more than 100 horticulture and technology leaders from across New Zealand who were welcomed by Tomra CEO, Geoff Furniss and his Fresh Food leadership team who then hosted tours of the innovation facility and its manufacturing operations.
David Hughes, CEO of Plant and Food, commented on the tenure and productivity of the relationship between the two organisations, showing how public and private organisations can partner to deliver world-class technologies to the industries they serve.
Hughes also acknowledged Furniss’ vision and dedication to innovation in the horticulture sector through the opening of this facility. Highlights of the evening included a behind the scenes look into Tomra’s test plots and field growing operations, Fresh Fruit Science Programme and testing labs, and real-world testing space where it can simulate flexible environments and multi climatic conditions varying wet/dry, temperature and humidity levels with the core commodities the company specialises in: apples, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, kiwifruit, cherries, and blueberries.
Attendees also enjoyed exclusive insights into the Tomra Fresh Food experimental research process where rapid innovation prototypes are developed and tested. They enjoyed in-person demonstrations of the electronics architecture and systems building.
The tour spotlighted the company’s artificial intelligence platform, LUCAI, showcasing the extensive and expanding features across the sensing technologies for large fruit. Also on display was their latest robotic case packing machine, the KETE16 as well as yet-to-be-released technologies that await commercialisation later this year.
“Deeply understanding the value chain of our customers’ experience is what truly sets us apart,” Furniss said.
“Having this centre connected to our own field growing operations allows for newly designed technologies to be tried, tested and developed with the help of practical in field experience.”