Automatic sorting of dates, using the Key Technology ‘Optyx’ platform, has enabled the industry to streamline date processing. More consistent sorting, by colour and/or size, is now possible with minimal manpower. Al Thika is now moving to further capitalise on its strong relationships in the sector by designing an automated solution for downstream bulk packaging, and this month received the first order for an in-line system.
The main sorter outfeed will provide the product to be packed into bulk cartons of 5, 10, or 20kg. An uplift conveyor takes the dates from the sorter to a heavy-duty twin linear net weigher, mounted over an indexing conveyor. Cartons are automatically erected and fitted with a plastic liner, to create a ‘bag-in-box’ which is fed onto the indexing conveyor. After dumping the dates, the carton is automatically agitated to ensure a level fill, before passing to a manual station where an operator folds over the bag, as a complete seal is not desirable. The conveyor leads to an automatic carton closer, after which the cartons are manually palletised. The system is designed to produce 10 x 5kg cartons per minute – around 3 tonnes per h our. The system is scheduled to be operational in time for the 2016 date harvest season.