Sunkist builds a better fruit packing machine
Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce -- Packaging Digest, 4/16/2012 6:05:56 PM
Sunkist Research and Technical Services—a division of international fruit supplier Sunkist—was the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for March. Sunkist Research engineers earned the recognition for the company's use of Autodesk Product Design Suite software from Autodesk Inc. to develop a flat fruit-packing machine that doubles hourly throughput.
Existing flat fruit packing machines pack a single layer of fruit into a box during each cycle. The key breakthrough of the new flat fruit packing machine is that it can feed a layer of fruit into two boxes at once. Instead of processing 200 boxes of fruit per hour hour, the machine can potentially process 400 boxes per hour.
In the citrus industry, "flat fruit" refers to oval citrus products such as lemons, tangerines or fruit with a large button at the top like Minneolas. Oval fruits do not roll on a conveyor belt as uniformly as round fruit, such as oranges, and are more challenging to efficiently process and package.
"The Autodesk Product Design Suite—and specifically Autodesk Inventor software—have both been invaluable tools and big parts of our success in developing solutions that help maintain our lead in the citrus industry," says Alex Paradiang, director of engineering, Sunkist Research. "Autodesk software helps us display our engineering talents to our customers and shows them that we are constantly innovating on their behalf."
Digital concept becomes a reality
Working with Autodesk Gold Partner KETIV Technologies, Sunkist Research efficiently transitioned from PTC Pro/ENGINEER software to Autodesk Product Design Suite. Sunkist Research garnered support to develop its new packing machine by using Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Showcase software to create renderings and animations that demonstrated proof of concept to partners and customers.
Autodesk Inventor was at the core of the design and engineering process, enabling Sunkist Research to create a digital prototype of the new flat fruit packing machine. In addition to easily checking for interferences, Inventor provided finite element analysis (FEA) tools to help determine the appropriate metal thickness for hours of continuous use.
Sunkist Research also relied on Autodesk Vault product data management software to reuse common parts, incorporate existing components into new assemblies and better collaborate both within and outside of the project team—speeding development time.
"Consumers care a great deal about how their food gets from farm to table, and Sunkist's R&D team has shown they continously seek ways to innovate in speeding the delivery of fresh citrus from the orchards to supermarkets and more," says Robert "Buzz" Kross, svp, Design, Lifecycle and Simulation at Autodesk. "By using Autodesk software to create a digital workflow, Sunkist Research and Technical Services can design, visualize and simulate its citrus packing solutions more rapidly and cost-effectively."
For 50 years, Sunkist Research and Technical Services has provided automated solutions for the citrus industry. Sunkist Research and Technical Services is a division of Sunkist, a leading international supplier of fresh fruit, and the oldest operating citrus cooperative in America.
Source: Autodesk Inc.