SUNConferences, Computers and Industrial Engineering 42

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New Developments In Grape Punnet Packaging
Nico Treurnicht, Nina Verwey, Mike Blanckenberg

Last modified: 2012-06-26


Over the past decade the demand for punnet packaged grapes has been steadily increasing in first world countries. As this mode of packaging is inherently more labour intensive than carton packaging, productivity is a significant challenge for producers. The emphasis on productivity has broadened to include minimisation of “give-away”, or overweight punnets as well as minimisation of waste caused by the packaging method. Hence, in this study the focus is on punnet packaging effectiveness. The table grape market in Europe is well organised and enforces stringent quality control measures, including strict control of conformance of individual punnet mass to the specification.

The South African table grape industry makes use of developing world seasonal labour, making accurate weighing of punnets a management challenge.

This study was undertaken at one of the largest grape packaging facilities in the southern hemisphere where new methods for punnet packaging were compared with conventional methods measuring labour productivity, “give away” as well as waste. Three packaging methods, namely manual packaging with a generic electronic scale, microcontroller assisted combination packaging and a new custom microcontroller supported scale, were investigated. Especially the new method employing a departure from assembly line concepts yielded encouraging results.

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