BBC Technologies is extending its CURO filling system with the new CURO-2 compact system for fruit under 40mm diameter, primarily focusing on blueberries, cherries and snacking tomato markets.
Developed under market demand, the new system enables customers to pack small volumes of graded fruit in multiple tiers for supermarkets. This is useful for premium products or complementing bigger CURO-platforms to supplement capacity if required.
It has the exceptional versatility of the bigger CURO-16 and the same efficiency in switching between different sized packing options such as clamshells, punnets and boxes. It also shares the benefits of excellent accuracy, gentle handling, and simple and intuitive user interface of the larger system.
BBC Technologies’ CEO Geoff Furniss said: “We developed CURO-2 because we wanted to increase further the flexibility and granularity of the CURO platform.
“We are seeing a significant shift in the market, with our customers being increasingly required to divide their fruit into multiple tiers and needing to pack different grades of product simultaneously. The CURO-2 provides the solution for packing our customers’ niche products once they have been graded, as well as providing them with additional capacity when needed.
“At BBC Technologies we have a track record for working closely with our customers and continually evolving and adapting our offering to suit their individual needs, and this is exactly what happened with this new product.”
CURO-2 delivers premium flexibility in South Africa
The CURO-2 system was developed to meet the requirements of customers such as South Africa based Blue Mountain Berries. The company farms 143 hectares of blueberries, which it distributes through global group BerryWorld to markets across the world, including Europe, South East Asia and Russia. Two years ago, the berry company also started a frozen berry line, which it markets to South African retailers for the time being.
As a loyal BBC Technologies customer since 2012, Blue Mountain Berries recently upgraded the automatisation of its packing plant with the addition of a full turnkey KATO 260 precision grading line and a CURO-2 filling system.
Managing director at Blue Mountain Berries Chrisleo Botha explains the setup: “We worked out a KATO 260 configuration with seven exits, comprising one with a CURO-12, which processes the majority of our product; one with the CURO-2, which we use to pack a grade that is about 20% of our product; two exits with hand fillers for our smaller fruit and local products; two exits for our frozen fruit; and finally one waste exit.
“The whole configuration fits our business well and we can do everything we want to do on one run. The CURO-2 allowed us to utilise fill-by-weight functionality on smaller niche volumes of fruit that we were previously having to pack by hand.”
After two months of operation, Chrisleo has found that the upgrade with the addition of the KATO 260 precision grading line and the CURO-2 filling system has raised the company’s productivity, improved quality by reducing human handling and errors, and increased accuracy by reducing the fruit give-away.
Chrisleo added: “Sizing is increasingly a selling tool, and with the KATO 260 we are able to offer premium lines of fruit in a definite size or quality band. We can sort narrower sized bands, for example, with diameters less than 14mm, 14-16mm, and 16mm plus, which gives a much better appearance for some of our clients.
“The CURO-2 has increased our capacity to do a final pack in different sizes and it’s been working very well for us. Also, the premium lines attract better payment, which benefits our profitability.”
Chrisleo is also impressed with the CURO-2’s gentle handling of the berries. She added: “Part of our quality control (QC) process is to measure firmness, and I’d like to say we’ve got really consistent firmness. We don’t lose product integrity. In terms of quality and how we are perceived in the market, the machine has already paid a lot towards its purchase price in just half a season.”
The relationship with BBC Technologies is very important to Chrisleo, not only for the after-sales support, but also in terms of product development, for the company’s ability to anticipate customer needs and work with them to develop solutions.
Chrisleo added: “BBC Technologies is reliable because even if we struggle with a problem I know we will get an answer. And that’s not applicable only to after-sales, but also to the product itself. New product developments address the issues that we perceive during the seasons, as new problems arise and as new requirements are put there by the markets. For me, that’s very positive.”
Maximum flexibility, gentle handling and extreme accuracy
The CURO-2 features two filling stations and is designed for packing small fruits with diameters under 40mm such as blueberries, cherries and snacking tomatoes.
The fruit is fed into the CURO-2, where a shaker table gently moves it side to side, distributing it evenly onto the two stations of the machine. Each station features two belts, the bulk feed belt conveys the majority of the product into the weighing station, while the trickle feed belt adds one additional piece of fruit at a time to achieve the exact weight required. The fruit is deposited into the box, punnet or clamshell, and moved to the next stage of the packing process.
The CURO-2 packs up to 700 kg/h and is extremely gentle on the produce throughout the process, ensuring consistently high quality of the packed fruit. Minimal transitions between hopper and conveyor, together with the anti-bruise surfaces, ensure the product surface is kept intact during sorting and packing. Precision controls across filling, denesting and clamshell delivery result in extremely accurate weighing.
Industry-defining filling systems
The CURO-2 is the latest introduction in the CURO range, which includes the CURO-12 and CURO-16 systems featuring 12 and 16 filling stations respectively. The range stands out for its flexibility and capability to switch easily between a wide range of packing options, in addition to its accuracy, gentle handling of the fruit, intuitive controls and simplified operation. The CURO range is designed and manufactured at BBC Technologies’ manufacturing plant in New Zealand.
About BBC Technologies & TOMRA
BBC Technologies is the global leader in complete turnkey solutions for grading, optimising, and packing small fruit. Founded by growers, they specialise in soft, delicate varieties in which its industry-leading technology preserves the natural characteristics of each piece of fruit.
BBC Technologies designs, develops, manufactures and installs all of its own end-to-end turnkey lines, which include traceability and analytics software.
See more on TOMRA’s website.