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Sunkist launches next-generation citrus fruit sorter

The fully automated Sunsortai machine, a next-generation sorter from Sunkist Research and Technical Services, looks to make sorting and grading of citrus fruit just a lot easier. The new sorter uses Google AI technology to assess the inherent quality of each piece it processes, including any potential defects.

The Sunsortai's strength is its ability to use a proprietary imaging system to automatically identify fruit characteristics such as size, shape, weight, blemishes, and even decay that might not be visible to the naked eye. Be it citrus greening, oleocellosis, or citrus cankers, Sunsortai sorters can be trained to recognize the blemishes and defects that matter the most to each packer's operation.

"Bringing AI to the fruit sorting process allows our packhouses to dramatically increase the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of their sorting operations," said Aaron Gorsky, general manager of research and technical services. "Sunsortai equipment can conduct a comprehensive fruit assessment and sort the piece accordingly, all in one pass. This offers substantial operational efficiencies and improvements."

Because every packhouse is unique, Sunsortai machines can be customized to serve to each facility's individual needs and it will readily adapt to existing conveying systems. It employs a proven mechanical design that is fast, reliable — but also gentle — when it comes to handling mass quantities of freshly picked fruit.

"One of this AI sorter's greatest features is its ability to learn," said Gorsky. "Through repetition, the sorter learns to distinguish a defect's appearance from normal anomalous features like blossoms and stems. This happens in one pass, so it eliminates the need for special lines, manned by separate sorting specialists, who focus on specific blemishes. It's a huge time saver."

After proving successful in Sunkist packinghouses, the Sunsortai sorter is now available to any processing facility that needs to increase revenues through fast and accurate sorting.

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