Smart avos is revolutionizing fruit transport in South Africa


The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Pretoria is using ‘smart fruit’ to dramatically improve the transport of fresh produce in South Africa and around the world.

The project began after PhD student André Broekman designed a similar sensor to measure the movement of ballast under railway tracks.

He realized there were other applications for this technology, including how fruit travels from tree to market.

Professor Wynand Steyn, head of the civil engineering department and holder of the university’s chair of engineering, said it was an excellent example of technologies developed during academic research leading to valuable applications. in the real world.

Smart fruits – SmAvo and Smato (smart-avo and smart-tomato) – are data recording devices that measure the movements of artificial fruits during the harvesting and transportation process.

By measuring the movements, they can detect where the fruit is damaged before it reaches the market.

Optimizing the transport of fresh produce improves product quality and reduces losses. This, in turn, reduces prices for consumers and improves profits for farmers.

The artificial fruits use low-cost commercially available equipment, and the plans are made freely available to encourage farmers to use the technology.

The shells are 3D printed, using materials that mimic the hardness and flexibility of different fruits, such as avocados or tomatoes.

For example, the Smart Tomato uses a softer and more flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) than the harder PLA shell of the Avocado.

This technology has already been used to optimize processes on commercial farms in South Africa.

It makes it possible to improve fruit picking, washing and processing, transport on the road network, and even international transport by ship for the export market.

The full article with more details on the sensor design and test results is available for free at MaterialX.

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