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Automated Grape Sorting Systems Delivers Better Wine and Great ROI

Grape_Sorting_Robot-1000X36_V2
Analyst(s):  Toren Kutnick
Date: Jan 17, 2014
Markets and Industries: Agriculture
Systems and Technologies : Service Systems

A number of vineyards in California have recently turned to a new grape sorting robotic system made by Bucher Vaslin. The Bucher Delta R2 Vistalys evaluates harvested grapes by comparing the latest batch with samples in a photographic database of ripe grapes, and then removes non-ripe ones using pressurized air. The ripe grapes are then used in the production of wine. During the robotic sorting of the grapes, the grapes are evaluated by an optics system scanning at a rate of 10,000 frames per second.

Salients

  • Incredible Efficiency Wineries typically can sort two tons of grapes in two hours using 15 trained employees. By utilizing the Bucher Vaslin system, the same amount of grapes can be sorted in 15 minutes, with zero human employees.
  • Multiple sizes – The system is available in two different sizes:
    • Delta R1 Vistalys : is capable of sorting 3 to 5 tons/hour
    • Delta R2 Vistalys : is capable of sorting up to 10 tons/hour
  • Reasonable Cost –  $150k is the current cost of  the larger machine, so a 3 year amortization, plus minimal cost of capital would mean about a $60k/year cost. So assuming the 15 trained employee example (above) X $20/hour/human (fully loaded), yields a human cost of $300/hour.  Thus, at about 200 hours of (combined) human labor displacement (5 weeks X 40 hrs/week X 15 employees X $20/hr), the grape robot would realize an ROI vs trained human sorters if a winery uses the sorter for >5 weeks of duty vs 15 humans.
  • Quality Control According to wine tasters, the grapes optically sorted by the automated system routinely produce a better wine, compared to their hand selected equivalents.

ARIS Analysis

  • Ripe For Adoption – Recent improvements in the speed and quality of sorting of the sorting process, makes the Bucher Vaslin system a valuable solution for the right growers.
  • Inside Perspective – One grower Myria interviewed said that the technology certainly shows great promise, and that these machines are already being exploited at larger vineyards selling more expensive wines. But he went on to note that for smaller vineyards, the cost for these machines (and the ROI) does not justify the investment. However, smaller, less expensive models are likely to appear within a few years.
  • Shared Service Product Unlikely – In some wine regions it is not uncommon to use portable group facilities for processes such as wine bottling, but the use of grape sorters (human or robotic) in this manner is unlikely because of the size of the operation, the amount of time required for setup and cleanup of the sorting machine. More importantly, this shared approach may be impractical because the harvest and sorting of grapes tends to occur simultaneously in most regions, which would create short periods of large demand, followed by long periods of inactivity.
  • A Digital Eye On Food Inspection – The success of the Bucher Vaslin grape sorting system demonstrates yet again the ability automated optics systems to quickly and cost effectively inspect and sort crops. With each new success story, food production becomes more highly automated, with the result that better quality products are coming to market faster and at a lower overall cost. However, there are many food production processes where automation has yet been attempted.  These provide opportunities for food producers and solution suppliers alike.

 

 Resources
Bucher Vaslin - Website
This Grape-Gobbling Robot is Driving Farmers Out of Work (Quartz) - Article
This Winery's Sorting Robot Only Has Eyes for the Tastiest Grapes (Gizmodo) - Article

 

About the Author

Toren Kutnick

Toren Kutnick is Research Director at Myria RAS, Inc. He can be reached at tkutnick(AT)myriaresearch(DOT)com. Follow him on Twitter @Toren_K

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Contacting the ARISPlex team is simple – Please email us at one of the below addresses:

 

General Inquiries – info@arisplex.com

 

Feedback – feedback@arisplex.com

For Content Queries – publisher@arisplex.com

 

Press Contact – press@arisplex.com

Quote Request – quote.request@arisplex.com

 

Connection or Navigation Issues – technical.support@arisplex.com

 

 

To request more information about Myria Logo 344x135 Research & Advisory Services – arisplex@myriaresearch.com