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A Review of Bin Filling Technologies for Apple Harvest and Postharvest Handling

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

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 34(4): 687-703. (doi: 10.13031/aea.12827) @2018
Authors:   Zhao Zhang, Anand Kumar Pothula, Renfu Lu
Keywords:   Apple, Automation, Bin filler, Harvest, Infield, Postharvest handling.


Bin fillers play a critical role in transporting and distributing fruit evenly and without bruising into individual bins or containers from harvest platforms infield or sorting lines in the packinghouse. Over the years, a large variety of bin fillers have been developed for infield use and postharvest handling. This article reviews different bin filling technologies in terms of major design features, performance, and throughput, as well as automatic control and safety features. For infield use, bin filler designs have evolved from the early use of conveyors and reciprocating plates to recent adoption of soft pads and foam rollers, to reduce bruising and improve fruit distributions. For postharvest use, tilted bins and conveyors commonly used with early bin fillers have been replaced with hinged trays and vacuum suction cups for fruit transport and cylinder brushes and swingable dividers for bruise prevention. While many types of bin fillers have been developed, few are suitable for infield use because it imposes more constraints than postharvest use. Despite the use of automatic sensing and control in most bin fillers, human assistance is still needed during their operation. There are still major issues with the current bin fillers, such as large size, complexity in design, uneven fruit distributions, and low throughput. Further effort should, therefore, be directed towards the development of high throughput, simple yet reliable, compact and fully automated, or even intelligent bin fillers for infield and postharvest use.

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