Automated strawberry capping

Strawberries that are to be processed and frozen must be free of their calyx and stem. Manual capping in the field results in higher labor costs and labor shortages pose severe threats to the future of the frozen strawberries industry and its supplying growers.

Capping at the processing plant would be cleaner, safer, and provide greater yields if a high-speed capping machine were used.  However, despite numerous attempts in the past eighty years, a reliable and economically justifiable machine had yet to be developed.  We addressed this challenging problem by exploiting recent advances in computer-aided engineering (CAE), mechatronics, and real-time image processing. With funding from the California Strawberry Commission, we designed, built, and tested a high-speed single line orienting and capping machine prototype.

The machine has been licensed to Atlas Pacific and commercial units have been developed and deployed. The UC Davis prototype is shown next, with a description of its operation by Mr. Dennis Sadowski, Bio-Automation Lab’s Development Engineer, who co-designed the unit and fabricated it.

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