Western Growers case study: InteliCool a boon for Fresh Del Monte
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology recently assisted Inteligistics, a WGCIT partner, in the evaluation of Inteligistics’ InteliCool system at Fresh Del Monte facilities in Salinas, CA, and Yuma, AZ. The results were significant reductions in cooling cycle time, electric power savings, reduced CO2 emissions and overall efficiency improvement of 30 percent.
Inteligistics, a provider of innovative supply chain digitization and cold chain visibility solutions for the food, logistics, healthcare and energy monitoring markets, is located within the WGCIT incubator facility in Salinas.
Vacuum tube and HydroVac are now standard produce industry practice, as rapid removal of field heat will greatly improve product quality, maximize shelf life and enhance brand reputation. As important as post-harvest cooling is, existing practice is an inexact science that requires significant time and cost to execute effectively. To ensure target core temperatures in the middle of a load are reached, standard protocols rely on management of absolute pressure and extended treatment times. The average cooling time (start to end of the cycle) is in the range of 30 to 45 minutes for leafy green vegetables and considerably longer for denser products such as cabbage and cauliflower.
The patented InteliCool system continuously monitors product core temperatures throughout the cooling cycle. Integrated control process using proprietary algorithms ends the cooling cycle the moment target core temperatures are reached, eliminating excess cooling time. This results in energy savings, greater efficiency, and increased throughput, while lowering carbon emissions and helping mitigate climate change.
InteliCool technology combines wireless product core temperature sensors and secure cloud-based servers for continuous visibility and analysis using Inteligistics proprietary software. Operators can monitor the status in real-time, and when the core target temperature is reached, commands are sent back to the cooling tube control system to execute cycle completion.
"By transforming this process from manual to electronic and incorporating real-time temperature and pressure data using InteliCool, we have changed the vacuum cooling process into a climate-smart, dynamic, data-driven decision, instead of one relying on static data and operator experience," said Hans Sauter, senior vice president for R&D and food safety and chief sustainability officer for Fresh Del Monte Produce Co.
The three-year study involved over 9,000 vacuum tube cooling cycles on a range of produce commodities at Fresh Del Monte facilities in Salinas and Yuma. During the tests, average time to reach optimum temperature was reduced by four to seven minutes per cycle, electric power savings totaled 109,000 KWh, and CO2 emissions were reduced by 77 metric tons.
A similar technology is used for small fruits and certain vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower that employ a different method of cooling. In this process, product is cooled in a facility that is equipped with forced air tunnels. Traditional processes rely on periodic manual measurements of product core temperatures. InteliCool automates this process by using wireless sensors to monitor core temperatures in real-time, visualized in color-coded dashboards that help improve the operation process thereby increasing quality, efficiency, and throughput.
InteliCool is part of the suite of advanced complex innovative technologies developed and effectively implemented by Inteligistics throughout the perishables industries for optimizing efficiency, quality, and profitability.
"The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology was created to help identify industry priorities, assist companies to discover technologies to address those priorities, set up testing, and facilitate industry feedback and communicate progress to California, Arizona and Colorado fresh produce farmers," said Walt Duflock, vice president of innovation. "This thorough evaluation of InteliCool is our first in-depth case study and is proof-of-concept of the value WGCIT brings to the industry."