JA launches a sorting center to handle melons, carrots and other fruit and vegetables. This was the first JA to have a comprehensive system made up of two types of sorting machines.
Hanasaki Fukui Agricultural Cooperatives (headquartered in Sakai City, Japan) was formed by the merger of JAs in five towns in Sakai County in January 1996. It covers Awara city and Sakai city (except for Harue town) and is located in the northern end of Fukui prefecture. The name "Hanasaki," which means blooming flower, was chosen by popular vote and embodies the cooperative’s mission of meeting the needs of its members so they can flourish. Sakai plains are fertile enough to produce brand rice "Koshihikari" as well as melons, persimmons, Asian pears (Nashi), watermelons, tomatoes, and carrots.
The existing sorting center was refurbished. Five single-item sorting centers were merged and transformed in the facility to handle multiple items
To enhance its reputation, JA Hanasaki Fukui invested 339 million yen to build the "Fruits Center" that sorts many kinds of fruits and vegetables such as melons, pears, tomatoes and carrots.
The existing Awara watermelon sorting center has been renovated and expanded to install the state-of-the-art sorting machines "Fruit Pot Sorter" and "Finger Domino Sorter" each equipped with a nondestructive sugar content sensor. Furthermore, one unit of high throughput mini load AS/RS ‘DUOSYS’ that supplies packing materials was also added, establishing a high-spec sorting system.
Previously, each of the five sorting centers was dedicated to sorting and shipping only one item. Consequently, the centers were used only during the harvest season for each item it handled. Additionally, because sorting was mainly completed with a visual check by a worker and the use of tray sorters, there were often issues with throughput volume and quality consistency.
To solve these issues the "receiving/shipping facility improvement work" project was launched by the subsidies. Dispersed sorting centers were integrated. Sorting and related operations were mechanized, improving the quality of outgoing shipments and streamlining the sorting process.
Space-saving by stacking two sorters and high efficiency of boxing work by automatic supply of materials.
Pot Sorter handles big size fruits such as Marseille melons and Andesu melons that are local specialties, while Domino Sorter sorts tomatoes and carrots. Two kinds of sorters and chutes are arranged in tiers, enabling workers to do boxing in the same place. In addition, flow racks are installed on the sorters and chutes. Packing materials and fancy boxes for tomatoes only can be supplied by the DUOSYS automatically significantly shortening working hours required to switch items.
The layout of the sorting area makes it possible to change sorting items one after another depending on the fruit and vegetables received resulting in space-saving and efficient multi-item sorting. These products promote local production and consumption. They are shipped to direct-managed stores, schools and Japanese-style inns in the prefecture, and to Osaka, Nara and Kyoto outside of the prefecture.
"Mechanization of sorting fruits according to class with an appearance sensor and sugar content sensor allows us to supply consistent products. The system also satisfies farmers greatly because their products are graded fairly, and we can develop profitable sales," said Mr. Isao Miyamoto, a manager at the horticulture specialty section.