JBT FTNON has announced the full commercial introduction of the CoreTakr CTI Series 3, an innovative robotic system that uses advanced 3D camera technology to accurately and speedily remove unwanted cores from lettuce heads used in the fresh-cut and ready-to-eat segments. The Series 3 CoreTakr units are the first to be made widely commercially available following extensive production testing with customers in the Netherlands and the UK.
Capable of handling 1500 heads of lettuce per hour, the CoreTakr, which decores automatically with no employee interaction necessary other than a single operator, typically increases yield by between 3-9%, while at the same time significantly improving factory safety and forming an extra barrier against diseased produce.
“The machine works by using 3D cameras and advanced robotic technology,” explained Wilco Fauth, Global Product Line Director for JBT FTNON. “Iceberg lettuces drop automatically into the system with no people involved. A 3D camera will take a look at the lettuce and determine where the core is and it’s size. The lettuce then moves into the decorer which is extremely accurate in removing the core.”
Consistently accurate, each lettuce head receives an additional visual check before being inserted into the decorer. Once inside the machine, the system uses two sharp clinical knives to make sure only the undesired part of the lettuce is removed.
Hygiene is another key element of the CoreTakr, with the machinery designed for daily cleaning in accordance with stringent food safety standards (CE 2004/1935).
A further advantage, according to Fauth, is the CoreTakr’s capacity to identify and remove diseased products. “The moment the CoreTakr encounters a lettuce that is diseased, this is removed to prevent it going through the system,” he said. “This enormously improves food safety across the whole factory and allows customers to build up a full picture across the whole year, enabling them to provide feedback to the grower or seed company.” This, continued Fauth, is particularly important for safe, fresh-cut bagged or boxed salads, destined for sale in the chilled section of supermarkets.
However, JBT FTNON’s commitment to CoreTakr does not end with the purchase of the system, but remains ongoing during the life of the machinery. FTNON remotely monitors CoreTakr units to plan timely service and maintenance, and make sure the machinery is running effectively. The vast amounts of data that the CoreTakr produces – up to one terabyte per unit each day – is collected remotely by FTNON before being analyzed and shared with the customer.
The first examples of the Series 3 CoreTakr CTI have now been installed with customers in the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria.