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Novel Approaches to Passive Bin Filling for Apples

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009399.(doi:10.13031/2013.29873)
Authors:   Brian Kliethermes, Alexander Leslie, Russell Rohrbaugh, Jacob Koan, Scott Wolford,, D Michael Glenn, Karen Lewis, Tara Baugher,, William Messner
Keywords:   Apple harvest, bin filling, energy absorbing materials.

Bin filling remains among the most challenging operations of apple harvest. The current standard practice is careful release of fruit from the bottom of a picking bag while sweeping the across the top layer of apples already in the bin to distribute the fruit with minimal bruising. This process is time consuming and still prone to damage the fruit. In this paper we describe two new devices that show promise for increasing speed and reducing bruising in passive bin filling. The first distribution is the "energy absorbing grate for apple distribution and bin filling" in which apples are dumped through a network of elastic bands holding energy absorbing foam shapes. The vibration of the elastic bands creates a fluidized bed effect that allows apples to pass through the device while reducing their speed so that bruising is nearly eliminated. The second is the "pneumatic self-adjusting bin filler," in which alternate inflation and deflation of adjacent cylindrical bladders causes the device to climb up the rising pile of apples in the bin filler. The bladders also serve as to absorb the energy of the falling apples. We will present the design process, the results of laboratory and field tests, lessons learned, and future plans.

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