New Zealand apple packer says Tomra’s LUCAi technology tackles stem splits and punctures with precision

TOMRA Spectrim with LUCAi

Tomra says its LUCAi technology has dramatically improved the efficiency and accuracy of the packing operation of a top New Zealand apple grower.

Fresh Fruit Company of New Zealand (Freshco) recently implemented the new LUCAi upgrade package on its Tomra Spectrim grading platform. “It allows Freshco to not only tackle laborious stem split and puncture defects, but to move seamlessly between varieties without making adjustments,” Tomra said.

The LUCAi upgrade package for Spectrim includes Deep Learning models, pre-trained by vast datasets captured from Tomra’s machines across the world and precisely labelled by Tomra’s Data Science Team. With LUCAi, Spectrim assesses thousands of high-resolution, multi-channel fruit images every second and cross-references them with these datasets to make grading decisions. It is able to precisely detect and classify even the trickiest apple defects, such as splits and punctures across multiple varieties.

“The main defects are around the stem area. The splits are really hard to get around the stem, and you’re forever working on the splits and punctures,” said Robin Mudgway, technology and machinery manager at Freshco. “With LUCAi we get a model from Tomra and then we just put our own severity and confidence into it.”

LUCAi enables the operator to seamlessly switch varieties without slowing down the process: “You can use a model that is doing stem split and stem punctures, for example, on Gala apples. Then you can move to another variety that has the same defect and it just works. You don’t have to make any adjustments to it,” said Glen Kaunds, Tomra Food’s senior application engineer.

Spectrim with LUCAi allows customers to easily adjust the severity of grading parameters – something which previously had to be done by experienced operators – to cater to seasonal dynamics and market preferences.

“We deal with a lot of Royal Gala and Breeze apples, and they tend to have a lot of splits. LUCAi made it really easy to control that. Production was not slowed down at all like it would have in the past. This means that throughput stays at a good pace within the shed,” Mudgway said.

According to Tomra, Spectrim with LUCAi is easy to operate thanks to the user-friendly interface: “The new User Interface is really beneficial for tracking grades. You can see more data and when you make changes, you can see the percentage change you’re making. The return on investment is a no brainer because your production’s not slowing down,” Mudgway concluded.