All-new cluster separating machine for cherries, which eliminates product damage, was shown publicly for the first time at the international trade exhibition in Spain.

TOMRA Fresh Food unveiled its revolutionary new Cascade Singulator for cherry singulation at Fruit Attraction, the international trade exhibition for the fruit and vegetable sector, in Madrid, Spain, last month. TOMRA Food’s presence at Fruit Attraction also spotlighted three optical sorting machines – the TOMRA 5S Advanced, TOMRA 5A, and Nimbus BSI – and the TOMRA Insight data platform.

Value added cherry solution

The traditional cluster-cutting of stems from grouped cherries exposes the fruit to a series of tines, blades, and  blade guards, all hard contact points. This can cause pitting damage in a significant percentage of the fruit. This problem is especially troublesome with more delicate and lighter-skinned cherries, such as Rainiers, but affects all varieties. Consequently this may lower the value grade of the crop, thereby making it unable to meet certain  market requirements because their shelf-life is shortened.

Until now, this loss of potential product revenue has seemed unavoidable. But the launch of TOMRA Fresh Food’s   all new Cascade Singulator solves this age old problem. Their New Zealand-based team has designed and developed a new machine for singulation from cherry clusters with a gentle carrying method and superior cluster separation.

Benedetta Ricci Iamino, Global Category Director Cherries at TOMRA Fresh Food, said: “The development of the Cascade Singulator’s unique design started with extensive research into issues around pitting and bruising damage, caused by traditional methods, as well as to provide a technology that could be easier to operate while also reducing the on-going costs. By consulting with cherry industry experts around the world, we sought a solution that ensured gentle handling and respected the value of each individual cherry. This new technology not only will improve the quality of the separation while guaranteeing increased reliability and consistency in the fruit quality, but will also ensure reduced operational hours and maintenance costs; our customers will not need to hire highly skilled people to continuously adjust the singulator during the cherry season based on the different varieties, while also reducing the operational hours needed to replace blades and bearings during the maintenance procedures. Tomra Fresh Food made sure to take care of everything for its customers’ peace of mind.”

Superior separation solution for cherry processors

For gentle product handling, the unique design of the Cascade Singulator’s separation system removes the need for rotating blades and protective guards. Traditional cluster cutters push cherries at speed to get clusters to the blades, significantly increasing the risk of pitting and bruising. The Cascade Singulator reduces the velocity of the cherries by using a non-motorized water system that decelerates the water flow between each bank of separation.

For a higher separation quality, the Cascade Singulator aligns the cluster’s center to achieve a clean and even separation without the risk of tearing the cherries.

The Cascade Singulator’s new method improves separation location nearer the knuckle where two cherries join.

Validated with a leading cherry producer

The first machine was sold to Polehn Farms, a leading cherry producer in Oregon, USA. This highly regarded family-owned business, which has been packing cherries since 1989, typically handles 2,000 tons of cherries annually. It has so far put some 634 tons of cherries through the Cascade Singulator.

Ken Polehn, co-owner of Polehn Farms with his wife Liz, said: “We hoped TOMRA Fresh Food’s new machine might reduce maintenance requirements on the line, make the working environment safer, and reduce the mechanical damage to fruit. The Cascade Singulator has certainly met all of those objectives. The reduction in mechanical damage to the fruit is significant, better than we could have expected. There are fewer clogs on the line, so that we’ve removed bottlenecks in our production process. This machine is quieter, gentler, and safer to work on than traditional cutters. And whereas the cleaning time on a cluster cutter is seven man-hours per day, with the Cascade Singulator, it’s just one-and-ahalf man-hours per day. This machine is a game-changer that will  revolutionize the cherry industry.”

Optical sorters and data analysis also under the spotlight

TOMRA’s presence at Fruit Attraction also spotlight the TOMRA 5S Advanced, TOMRA 5A, and Nimbus BSI sorting machines, and the TOMRA Insight data platform.

The TOMRA 5S Advanced is the world’s most advanced sorter for the fresh fruit industry, with high throughput, gentle product handling, and unrivaled reliability. Designed for hygienic operation, with toolless cleaning and sanitization, this machine’s connectivity features make it the digital heart of the packhouse, future proofing the   user’s business for the next 10-20 years.

The TOMRA 5A is a premium bulk sorting and size grading machine, popular with potato processors and suitable for many other types of food. Heavy duty, high capacity, and high performance, this sorter removes more than 98% of foreign materials and detects product defects by assessing the color and shape of materials on the line.

The Nimbus BSI is ideal for IQF vegetables and IQF fruit. Equipped with TOMRA’s unique Biometric Signature Identification technology, this machine detects and ejects unwanted objects according to their color, shape and biological characteristics. There is nothing else like this on the market. All these sorters can be connected to the TOMRA Insight cloud-based data platform, available as a subscription service. Accessing live data from sorting machines enables operators to make almost instant improvements to line efficiencies; accessing historical data makes it possible to quantify the standard of raw materials from suppliers and make better-informed business decisions.