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ARS Home » Midwest Area » East Lansing, Michigan » Sugarbeet and Bean Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350388

Research Project: Nondestructive Quality Assessment and Grading of Fruits and Vegetables

Location: Sugarbeet and Bean Research

Title: A review of bin filling technologies for fruit harvest and postharvest handling

item ZHANG, ZHAO - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item POTHULA, ANAND KUMAR - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Lu, Renfu

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/25/2018
Publication Date: 7/1/2018
Citation: Zhang, Z., Pothula, A., Lu, R. 2018. A review of bin filling technologies for fruit harvest and postharvest handling. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 34(4):687-703.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Harvest and postharvest handling are two most expensive operations for apple production in U.S. and many other countries, during which bin fillers would play an important role in transporting and dispersing apples into individual bins or containers evenly and gently (i.e., free from bruising) from harvest platforms infield or sorting lines in the packinghouse. Over the past decades, a large variety of bin fillers have been developed for infield use and postharvest handling. This paper gives a comprehensive review of bin filling technologies in terms of major design features, performance, and throughput as well as automatic control and safety features. For early version bin fillers for infield use, it was common to use conveyors or reciprocating plates to receive and disperse fruit in the bin, which are likely to result in excessive bruising and non-uniform fruit distributions. For recent version infield bin fillers, it was quite typical to use soft pads and foam rollers for reducing fruit collision and spinning bins or pinwheels for more even distributions of fruit in the bin. For postharvest use, early bin fillers often required the bin or conveyor to be tilted so as to shorten fruit dropping distances, while later versions tended to use hinged trays and vacuum suction cups for fruit transport and cylinder brushes and swingable dividers for bruise prevention. While many different types of bin fillers have been developed, few are suitable for infield use because it imposes more constraints (i.e., cost, efficiency, space, and safety) than postharvest use. Overall, there are still some major issues with the current bin fillers, which include, but are not limited to, large size, complexity in design, uneven fruit distributions, and low throughput. Although the automatic lifting function in the form of mechanical means or optical sensors has been incorporated into most bin fillers, human assistance is still needed at the beginning and end of filling. Future effort should, therefore, be directed towards the development of high throughput, simple yet reliable, compact and fully automated or even intelligent bin fillers for infield and postharvest use.