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LB Foster solution is top banana

18 May 2015

When tropical produce importer, Fyffes, wanted to automate a banana ripening and distribution centre in Normanton, West Yorkshire, it turned to LB Foster Materials Handling of Leicester for a solution. The £520,000 project included the manufacture and installation of production lines and an accumulating pallet conveyor which is over 100m long.

Boxes of bananas from around the world arrive by lorry at Normanton on pallets and, once inside the DC, begin their journey around the ripening and processing plant on the accumulating pallet conveyor. They are loaded by forklift truck and travel to an automatic turntable in the corner of the packaging area. This corrects the orientation of the pallets and they proceed directly to an offloading station adjacent to the ripening rooms.

Typically, the bananas spend five days ripening by which time they have taken on their familiar yellow hue. Next stop is one of the six production lines. Here operatives working at ergonomically designed packing benches carefully take the ripe fruit out of the boxes and carry out quality and grading checks.

Bananas which are deemed for any reason to fall short of the major retailers’ specification are separated out and placed on an upper level belt conveyor for sale in other markets.  Those which pass the strict quality control procedure are repackaged ready for retail sale.

Some bananas are bagged by weight and some by number of fruit, depending on the particular requirement of different retailers. The bags are then put back into boxes and placed onto a roller conveyor which runs down the centre of the packing benches. This conveyor takes the boxes of fruit straight to the loading bay to be palletized ready for despatch to the various supermarkets.