Robots in the Packinghouse
Labor continues to be one of the biggest challenges for farmers, but the problems don’t end at harvest. Wootzano is a company that founder Atif Syed says makes highly dexterous robots to help in the packing houses of fruits like tomatoes and table grapes.
Syed…. “So this industry traditionally has been quite labor-intensive. So all the tasks were pretty much manual because fruits like table grapes, vine tomatoes, any soft fruit, they're very easily damaged. So robots still didn't have that sense of dexterous manipulation techniques to be able to handle this fruit without bruising or damaging it. So humans were still employed and have been still employed in the industry. Now over the course of a few years, more and more people don't wanna do this job cause it's very laborious, mundane, repetitive task. It's very difficult to find people to do that job. So it's a mixture of all of that. With COVID, of course coming in middle as well, where there's a preference of people not wanting their food to be touched by anyone, ideally, you know, if it's as pristine as it can be. So it's something which we looked at as a company, and we decided to sort of go after, as I call it, pun intended, lowest hanging fruit.”
Syed says Wootzano’s patented technology allows the robots to handle fruit as delicately as human hands.