Pineapples packing a punch

Australia contributes less than one per cent of the world’s fresh pineapple production but supplies almost the entire domestic market. In 2016–17, pineapple production was valued at $47.3 million with around 47,500 tonnes of fresh fruit and 28,000 tonnes of processed fruit marketed. There are approximately 80 commercial pineapple enterprises in Australia, with four primary packing houses that pack and market more than 70 per cent of fresh pineapples.

JCU researchers are working with R&M Packing Pty Ltd (T/A N.Q Paradise Pines) to build a modification to the packing conveyor belt that allows for automatic counting of boxes, which are packed by each packer. While options are available on the market, the cost is prohibitive at the number required in the packing sheds. A design-build solution will be built and tested that will use detectors, along with a suitable programming code, that handles the counting without false trips and counts. This project aims to produce a cheap, reliable option that provides a solution to pineapple industry problems.