Washington Fruit’s newest facility, which opened in 2015, boasts the world’s best technology for apple packing. Dubbed the North Facility, it is located next to the Cherry facility at the main complex in Yakima, Washington. It is designed for optimum food safety and produce traceability. The building is designed with conduit and cabling running below the floor as well as recess mounted LED lights throughout. This eliminates areas for dust collection and allows Washington Fruit to maintain one of the cleanest facilities in the industry. The equipment inside has been hand selected to provide very gentle fruit handling and also to deliver a consistent product day in and day out.
Continuing a partnership with Compac Sorting Equipment that started in 1998, the North Facility was the launch site for the newest sorting equipment the world has seen. The Spectrim system has nine cameras on each lane which are analyzing over 100 images of every apple. The combination of powerful software and crystal clear images has removed the need to rely on hand sorting, leaving minimum variation to the finished product. The images, in color and two levels of infrared, are used to detect blemishes on the surface of the apple and separate them accordingly. These images are also used to grade the apples based on color and shape. In addition, near infrared technology performs non-destructive sorting of the internals of the fruit. This technology can sort based on internal defects, sugar content, and even the pressure of the apple. Washington Fruit employees hand check each tray of fruit before placing them into their box, to ensure each carton is meeting our grade standard.
Washington Fruit maintains an SQF 2000 Level III Certification for food safety and quality. In order to achieve this level the food processing facility is continuously analyzed for potential safety and quality hazards. Controls have been put in place to reduce potential hazards, and to maintain the safest work environment for food handling and processing.
To ensure the highest level of produce traceability, a unique barcode number is stamped on every box packed. An internal database stores information for each case, such as the barcode, the time of packing as well as the orchard the fruit came from. The robotic palletizing system uses these barcodes to sort by different grades, colors, sizes, and box type. With the use of warehouse management software along with a racking structure, Washington Fruit is able to trace these barcodes from each case throughout the warehouse. This system also tracks the location and shipping destination for each individual box.
The new facility, which has is nearly 300,000 sq ft, has wireless networking installed which is used by computers and scanners mounted on the forklifts to track the flow of boxes going through the storage and shipping dock. This network combined with our warehouse management software ensures that no fruit will be shipped that is not up to Washington Fruit’s Quality Control standards.
Boasting some of the world’s finest equipment, Washington Fruit and Produce Co.’s newest food processing facility continues the tradition of designing warehouses to optimize both food safety and quality. Computer controlled and operated equipment ensures consistent quality standards that are at the top of the industry. Integrated with wireless equipment and barcode scanning, Washington Fruit is a leader in produce traceability now, and will continue to be in the future.