Sorting solutions for Washington Cherry Producer

Based in Washington State, Conrad & Adams Fruit has been growing and packing premium quality cherries for the United States and other global markets since 2008. In 2012, the highly regarded company began to automate its sorting and packing processes, partnering with BBC Technologies to develop a customised solution designed to meet Conrad & Adams specific requirements.

In keeping with its commitment to service and a customer-centric approach, BBC installed a trial MIRA-360 cherry sorter at Conrad & Adams facility in 2013. BBC staff then worked hand-in-hand with the US cherry supplier to adjust the equipment to meet the client’s ambitious targets for throughput, accuracy and compliance with industry standards in respect of defects, colour and sizing.

“BBC’s willingness to work closely with us, over many months, to understand our business and adapt its technology to our needs has given us great confidence.” – Gene Gifford – General Manager, Conrad & Adams.

The Solution

Conrad & Adams went on to install two of BBC’s MIRA-360 cherry sorting machines on its packing line.

BBC’s MIRA-360 Cherry Sorter uses smart technology to identify and remove cherries with defects such as cracks, splits, soft rot, wrinkles, bruises and insect damage. It also sorts for colour and into multiple streams by size.

A key advantage for Conrad & Adams is the compact size of the equipment which takes up less than half the space that many conventional sorter machines occupy. BBC’s MIRA-360 sorter is around three feet or just under one metre wide, compared to 12 feet or more than three-and-a-half metres wide for competitor products.

“This was crucial for Conrad & Adams as it moved to electronic cherry sizing,” says BBC’s US Sales Manager Paul Birchall, “as our technology fitted easily into the company’s existing packhouse.”

Birchall says other features of the MIRA-360 equipment are also adding value for Conrad & Adams, including its seamless customer interface and information it provides about fruit quantity and quality which helps inform decision making for the company.

Learn more about the Mira-360 Sorter

The Results

Conrad & Adams initial goal was to achieve throughput of three tons an hour, a target which was easily exceeded in the first few months of operation. Conrad & Adams is now on track to double the volume of cherries it handles, without having to take on more staff in its packhouse.

It is benefitting from a higher quality offering as a result of increased accuracy in sorting for defects and enjoying better returns for premium Rainier cherries. BBC’s sorter can accurately pick out the valuable, high-blush Rainier cherries that fetch top prices, a task which previously had to be done by hand.

Conrad & Adams is buoyed by the potential flow-on effects of its investment. Increased capacity at Conrad & Adams’ facility means the company can pack for more growers who, in turn, can expand their cherry plantings, confident there is adequate processing capacity in the region.

“Partnering with BBC is delivering strong growth for Conrad & Adams,” says General Manager Gene Gifford. “It’s not only reducing our costs and giving us greater assurance around the quality of our cherries, it’s also creating momentum for growth in the wider industry throughout our region.”

The Future

Both Conrad & Adams and BBC are committed to a long-term partnership.

“BBC’s willingness to work closely with us, over many months, to understand our business and adapt its technology to our needs has given us great confidence,” says Gene.

Paul Birchall says a key part of being able to provide that, has been the integrated support from the wider BBC team. “Part of the strength of our offering is having someone like me on the ground, backed up by our research and development and technical support staff back in New Zealand.”

Conrad & Adams will be continuing its investment in packing and packaging technology and is exploring a full range of turnkey solutions with BBC to support its future growth.

BBC CEO Geoff Furniss says it is rewarding to see BBC’s long-standing investment in innovation and its commitment to flexibility, delivering benefits on the ground.

“There is substantial growth taking place in the cherry industry both in the United States and other parts of the world. Our value-driven partnership with Conrad & Adams illustrates how customers can ride that wave, using smart technology to get ahead.”

Contact our Sales team to learn more about the MIRA-360