About 30% of fruits and vegetables are wasted during processing operations and, although some of them are damaged, a considerable amount is discarded only due to inefficient sorting practices. This is a huge amount of waste and also a huge monetary loss for businesses.
As demand for food is expected to increase between 59% to 98% by 2050, the importance of minimizing food waste goes beyond economic concerns.
Sorting fruits and vegetables is a vital part of the supply chain, as it identifies foreign materials or fruits that do not meet the standards set by food safety organizations. So another important aspect of this process is making sure all unqualified produce is filtered out.
Food waste is not only bad for business but also bad for the environment. Food loss and waste accounts for 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the FAO.
Since sorting is still mostly done manually, it leaves room for some human error. Not noticing foreign objects or spoiled products can have serious consequences for businesses, resulting in costly lawsuits and other complications.
However, some farms realized that instead of handling this process with traditional methods, innovative solutions like AI-powered sorting machines could be more effective and less expensive in the long run.
Let’s take a closer look at the solution and how effective it can really be for companies.
AI-powered fruit sorting machines
As you may already know, artificial intelligence is a simulation of human intelligence in machines, and just as humans learn from past experiences, so does AI from historical data.
With the help of data, AI-powered systems can recognize patterns and make independent, intelligent decisions to get the best possible outcome.
Machine vision is one of the many aspects that AI covers and is an important part that makes autonomous sorting possible. With the help of AI cameras and algorithms, machine vision can perform visual inspections of different things by detecting flaws, contaminants, or product defects.
Combine this technology with data about fruits and vegetables and you get yourself a produce sorting machine. But exactly what kind of data can be fed into the system?
It is important to provide your machine with a large amount of quality data for the best result, including various images of healthy and unhealthy fruits and vegetables.
In this way, the machine will learn from the provided examples and quickly differentiate spoiled from healthy vegetables and classify them accordingly.
Let’s see what the automated process would be like with sorting machines powered by AI:
- The harvested product will pass through the cameras and sensors of the machine
- Sensors and cameras will first identify the product type and move to the next phase only if the product will be identified as the desired fruit or vegetable (this step identifies if foreign bodies are present)
- Afterward, the machine with the help of a neural network analyzes the images of produce to identify its state: healthy or damaged
- The product is distributed in different containers according to its state
- Sorted vegetables and fruits are inspected by human agents for maximum precision
A better way of sorting
These types of sorting operations are useful for various businesses, they can be used to sort different items like computer parts or even waste. However, it is especially vital for food processing because ensuring a high-quality product is essential for this sector.
In today’s innovative world, finding smart solutions that increase efficiency and effectiveness is key to success, which is why more and more companies are starting to implement AI in their day-to-day operations.
Want to see how AI helped companies manage COVID and force a major crisis? Take a look at our article.