06/03/2023 – Packaging / Technology / Avocados / ILIP / Smart Trolley / Tropical Fruits / Ripening / Fruit Logistica
ILIP launches innovative system for controlling the ripening of avocados in the room
Unveiled during fresh produce expo Fruit Logistica in Berlin, ILIP’S ‘Smart Ripe Trolley’ uses RFID technology linked to neuron-type software to increase the efficiency of the tropical fruit ripening process without opening the room or requiring invasive tests.
Monitoring the degree of ripeness of tropical fruit is one of the key aspects in managing operations at the packing houses of importers to offer the market fruit at the desired quality and ripeness. Italian innovator ILIP showcased its intervention – entitled ‘Smart Ripe Trolley: Monitoring the ripening of tropical fruits with RFID sensors’ – at the Tech Stage forum organised by the Berlin trade fair as part of Fruit Logistica, precisely to managing this task faced by exporters of tropical or out-of-season fruit.
A game-changer in smart packaging
Addressing an audience of international operators, the company unveiled what could prove a game-changing innovation in the field of smart packaging: the Smart Ripe Trolley. The innovative IoT-enabled system monitors the ripening process of tropical fruits (in particular avocados) for industrial uses. The device’s function is based on RFID tags and sensors installed on a trolley. The results of the control are shown in real time on a digital platform.
This new solution is an evolution of the Smart Ripe (pictured) – developed by ILIP in 2019. However, in contrast to the Smart Ripe Trolley, Smart Ripe was designed for the retail sector, to determine the degree of ripeness of the avocado on the shelves and applies to the individual packaging using the RFID tag sensor integrated into the pack.
The Smart Ripe Trolley project is the result of collaboration between the ILIP’s R&D Department and the Innovation Department of Westfalia Fruit Group – a multinational specialised in the production and sale of avocadoes.
“After the first presentation at the 2019 Fruit Logistica Tech Stage of the Smart Ripe in trays for the individual fruit for the retail sector, we were contacted by Westfalia Fruit,” informs Luigi Garavaglia, ILIP’s R&D Manager. “[They] described their need to assess the progress of ripening of avocados in the ripening rooms, which are a sealed environment containing ethylene, without invasive tests on sample of the fruit and without opening the room, because doing so each time interrupts the treatment and modifies the atmosphere, requiring subsequent restoring of parameters”.
Thereafter began research with Radio6ense, – a spin-off of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. At the end of the design phase, this led to the development of a trolley with four shelves, each able to hold 32 fruits, each in its own nest, where four RFID sensors are positioned. The tag RFID sensors detect changes in certain dielectric parameters of the fruit pulp associated with ripening, which they then transmit to the RFID reader installed on the trolley.
Estimating ripening without generating inefficiencies
To take the readings in wireless mode, ILIP has collaborated with Radio6ense (which analyses wireless data) to develop neuron-processing software: the trolley holding 128 avocados is wirelessly connected to a remote IoT computational platform, namely neuron-type software with artificial intelligence. The Smart Ripe Diagnostics software yields interactive feedback, generating an automatic alert in the event of detections outside parameters, thereby allowing the operator to intervene on the ripening software. The correction will soon become automatic, thanks to direct interaction between the neuronal software and the management software.
The first tests on avocado (Hass variety) in a room with ethylene were started by ILIP with the partner Westfalia Fruit back in 2020 and are still on-going. “The Smart Ripe Trolley, patented by ILIP, has been designed for fruit and vegetable operators – and, in particular, for importers of tropical fruit and manufacturers of climate and ripening rooms with ethylene,” Luigi Garavaglia advises in closing. “[The Smart Ripe Trolley] satisfies the need to estimate ripening without generating inefficiencies due to the alteration of the protected environment inside the room each time it is opened, or product waste through daily invasive tests. This solution allows for the distribution to the market of ready-to-eat fruit, in respect of the protocols of modern organised distribution and guaranteeing constant quality standards.”
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