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CenFRA reveals fresh simulation

23 July 2010

CenFRA has introduced new simulation technologies exclusively designed to help galvanise the UK's fresh produce industry

Over the years automation solutions have been designed purposely to meet the needs of the food industry and one of the most applicable to the fresh produce industry are high speed flex pickers, which can deal with randomly positioned products and delicate items such as aubergines and avocados.

More recently, equipment manufacturers have addressed more specialist labour intensive processes and introduced revolutionary systems for coring cauliflower and top and tailing cucumbers as well as non-contact grippers, which are ideal for products such as lettuce leaves.

To help the fresh produce industry recognise the full potential of these emerging new technologies and the financial savings and practical paybacks that robotic and automated systems can bring, CenFRA has developed a very visual discrete event simulation system, which will, at very little cost, evaluate and quantify the benefits and implications of integrating automation techniques into new or existing production lines on a virtual scale without creating any disruption to current operations.

The system produces interactive 3D computer models of factory layouts, which include technical details on existing production equipment. CenFRA then uses this and its expert knowledge of available technology to advise on the best automation solutions, whilst simultaneously identifying any unforeseen obstacles and highlighting potential areas for improvement.

In addition, the Yorkshire Forward supported company can develop bespoke systems and solutions where no suitable commercial option exists and for evaluating how a particular product would work with the equipment - for example the system allows for pressure and friction testing.

CenFRA's in-house knowledge and skills combined with a computer aided design system enables the company to offer 3D modelling, component assembly drawing and freeform surfacing to demonstrate how for example, bananas could be peeled using a machine.

These latest offerings from CenFRA are invaluable to the fresh produce industry, which up until recently has been extremely reluctant to automate. CenFRA's simulation processes can confirm that the desired impact of any proposed installation can be achieved without physically disrupting current manufacture or any other areas of production.

CenFRA recognises financing is one of the core issues that has held back the fresh produce industry in investing in new technology and is able to identify available opportunities and can advise on a range of funding options. For example the Rural Enterprise Investment Programme offers grants starting from £25,000 and is available to rural businesses wanting to grow and become more productive.

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