ImpacTrack is Tried and Tested with Positive Results
An estimated 40 million tonnes of fresh produce are being wasted each year in Europe because they don’t meet strict quality control standards. Martin Lishman’s award winning ImpacTrack was devised as a solution to reduce this waste and increase quality.
Since its launch in 2018, ImpacTrack has gathered momentum throughout the fruit industry with users located all over the world. The datalogger encased in a shape that mimics the real produce surprised many by revealing areas of damage throughout their processing lines and transport links and highlighting the need for improvements. Managing Director of Martin Lishman Ltd, Gavin Lishman adds “At Martin Lishman we believe that Agri-Tech solutions such as ImpacTrack are the key to maximising efficiency of food production. We have sold a similar product, the well-trusted TuberLog electronic potato to farmers and processors for many years and it continues to be a vital tool for testing harvesters and grading lines. To bring a similar device into the fruit industry was a logical step for us to take.”
ImpacTrack has a range of more than 16 different waterproof 3D printed shapes that mimic the size, shape and density of the produce being processed to allow it to react to handling machinery in the same way as the real thing. By linking to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, data can be viewed in real time to show potential sources of damage in processing lines. Built-in memory also allows the logger to record both shocks and temperature changes independently, perfect for discreet logging of transport shipments.
The University of Lincoln in the UK was eager to find out how such a small device can help maximise efficiency in fruit processing. They conducted several scientific tests to investigate the effectiveness of ImpacTrack, specifically using the apple shape along a grading and sorting line during commercial operation. Tests were repeated many times at each critical handling point in an effort to reveal patterns in the fruit’s behaviour; even with a varying number of apples on the line, their influence on each other and speed of movement, recurring patterns of damage areas could clearly be seen. Other factors such as temperature also had an effect on damage levels.
Two surprising discoveries came to light when the packing lines were running near empty, and when several stoppages occurred along route. When the line is more congested nearby fruit was creating a cushioning effect as they bumped into each other and softened the impacts, when the line was near empty significantly higher impact force results were recorded. When the line stoppages occurred, there was an increase in impact forces every time the conveyor started again, indicating that repeated stoppages have a potentially damaging effect on produce. After a successful investigation, the University of Lincoln’s research team concluded that ImpacTrack is “An easy to operate device providing instant results to which remedial action can be carried out” and a “potentially useful tool for staff training on good produce handling.”
Customers have embraced the opportunity to reduce waste that has been presented by ImpacTrack. Greenyard Fresh UK’s Technical Manager, Sebastian Janik, was one of the first to use the device. Even after the first run through their avocado line it was clear where damage was being caused: “Following the results of the ImpacTrack tests we were able to implement modifications to the grading and packing equipment which has significantly reduced the impact force to the fruit.”
“Prior to the implementation of ImpacTrack, our grading and handling processes were creating significant levels of wastage; however, with a number of straight forward modifications to the equipment our fruit utilisation has increased, with negligible wastage levels.”
“I would recommend ImpacTrack to those undertaking post-harvest grading and handling within the fresh produce sector, especially as the device can be manufactured to the shape and density of the product you are monitoring. This provides a true reflection of the process and I believe it is an excellent device for use in post-harvest handling.”
Martin Lishman Ltd have worked closely with both Greenyard Fresh and the University of Lincoln to utilise their research and real-world testing to fine tune the design and range of ImpacTrack shapes, which now includes clementine, pear, kiwi and garlic in addition to a range of apple and avocado shapes and sizes. “Damage to fruit can occur at all stages of the handling process,” says Gavin Lishman, “so ImpacTrack is the ideal tool to help improve these processes and minimise the damage as much as possible.” Gaining further insight into what’s happening along the processing line gives the user not only the opportunity to increase output and reduce waste but also to gain information in advance of potential customer complaints. Joel Capper, National Sales Manager at Martin Lishman added “It became clear that we cannot offer the customer a product such as ImpacTrack without first understanding their requirements. Growers and processors have specifications to meet and that’s why our brilliant in-house design team can reproduce almost any shape at the correct weight and density to ensure it’s as close to the real thing as possible”.