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F5 System: quality control fruit by fruit (NIR Technology).

System F5 represents SACMI s commitment to the development of quality control systems. To create this system, SACMI drew from the research & development carried out by the Japanese company FANTEC which has been operating in this specific field for more than 10 years. This company shares the same ideas and objectives as SACMI i.e. to check quality in line. In fact, for around 20 years, a department within the SACMI IMOLA packaging division has been working on vision systems integrated, for the most part, with the plants supplied to our customers. We believe that these are highly suitable products for development in the near future, even though it will mean substantial investment in both economic terms and in human resources in order to achieve our objectives and satisfy market demand. Our aim has been to offer a practical response to fruit growers who have expressed the need for a system which can provide quality assurance for every single piece of fruit. We found the results obtained by our Japanese partner in the course of their research extremely interesting. For this reason we agreed to work together with them in developing systems using NIR - the essential technology for assessing the internal quality of fruit. SACMI has taken on the responsibility of introducing this system outside Japan taking advantage of its own production capacity and the fact that it is an international group. The good working relationship that SACMI has already established with many fruit growers should give us a head-start in introducing the systems on this market. The F5 system is the first significant result of a joint project between SACMI and its Japanese partner. In fact the two companies have been exchanging know-how, experience and techniques for more than a year. SACMI has been to see the F5 systems in operation in Japan where several hundred have already been installed. In Italy we have performed test runs on various samples of fruit and we are now in a position to introduce the F5 as a system for quality control that is suitable to be part of the production process and is not just for the laboratory. For those who do not work in this sector, it is perhaps necessary to point out that, up until now, the internal quality of the fruit has been checked through random sampling whereby the piece of fruit in question is destroyed in the process. This has meant that the quality assessment is only based on statistics. The F5 system, on the other hand, provides in-line quality control of every single piece of fruit without touching it or damaging it in any way. The NIR quality assurance system uses near infra-red spectroscopic analysis - in other words, if the fruit is placed under a light whose components have the same type of wavelengths as molecular vibrations, the light beam can actually pass right through the fruit. The amount of light which passes through the fruit produces a spectrum which allows the contents of the fruit to be evaluated in terms of quality

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