Long-standing FreshTEC exhibitor Heinzen Manufacturing International, in partnership with KMT Waterjet Systems, Yaskawa/Motoman, and Soft Robotics, Inc., recently introduced the APCS (Automated Produce Cutting System). This robotic waterjet cutter improves quality and food safety and eases the strain of labor shortage. We spoke with Rudi Groppe, President/CEO of Heinzen Manufacturing International, to learn more about the technology that is poised to have a massive impact on the Fresh-Cut industry.
1. How did you discover the profiling technology and what prompted you to develop this?
The concept to profile cut produce by manipulation, as opposed to the waterjet knife, came about through a brainstorming session. We know there are great benefits to the use of a waterjet cutting technology in produce, and we were trying to come up with a creative way to create an angular cut to allow removal of the florettes. We haven’t seen waterjet in the application of floretting as of yet.
2. What challenges is it solving?
From quality and food safety to labor availability, automating what is now a very manual job will help ease the strain of labor shortage for these processes. Using automation also helps to reduce the food safety risks introduced by employees in direct contact with product. Waterjet has proven to increase shelf life and produce a consistent quality cut.
3. Where do you see this kind of technology headed?
Introduction of this kind of technology is allowing the industry to become more creative as we try to solve our major food safety concerns and labor shortages. As the Fresh-Cut industry continues to innovate, minds from other venues are continually approaching us as partners in innovation. We want to be in the forefront of the forward momentum.
4. You’re one of our longest standing FreshTEC exhibitors. Why do you choose to exhibit at FreshTEC in Chicago?
Exhibiting at FreshTEC allows us a chance to catch up with customers and clients, and gives us a venue to showcase some of our new technologies. It acts as a window into what is going on within Heinzen as we continually improve and innovate.
5. What progress have you made since the technology’s initial debut?
The APCS is still in its infancy. We are now going back to testing with improved vision and manipulation. As we work with our key partners on this process we foresee continual drive forward in improvements both mechanically and overall efficiency.