From citrus to nuts to apples, one of the most labor-intensive – and therefore costly – aspects of packing and sorting produce is keeping produce bins clean to prevent the built-up of dirt and bacteria. Manually cleaning a single bin can cost more than US$1 per hour: this may seem small, but when you are talking about dozens of bins, and hundreds of boxes or cartons of fruit, the cost soon adds up.
JBT’s patented Bin Scrubber System, which was initially developed to support the citrus industry, provides thorough and consistent field bin cleaning, with unmatched reliability and a low cost of operation. With more than 90 systems in operation today, the Bin Scrubber is the leading solution for cleaning bins in the produce industry, covering a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and applications from citrus and apples through to bananas, avocados, tomatoes and nuts.
But what makes the Bin Scrubber System so special? It firstly includes a patented inversion scrubbing feature which offers unparalleled cleaning, as well as innovations to make water distribution as effective as possible, including a triple filtration system, upper spray manifolds for cleaning during scrubbing and water diversion valves to maximize spray capabilities.
Water savings are also an important feature of the system, according to John Siddle, JBT’s Global Product Line Director for Fresh Produce Technologies. “The Bin Scrubber includes a 2,000 liter recirculation tank for minimal water consumption,” he says. “The system uses water that is filtered, treated, and reused so daily fresh water usage is minimized.”
Further, minimal use of moving parts simultaneously increases the equipment’s overall efficiency and reduces maintenance requirements, while the Bin Scrubber’s compact footprint enables installation in confined locations.
Cutting labor costs
But it is undoubtedly labor where some of the biggest savings with the Bin Scrubber System can be realized. Based on calculations provided by a leading citrus customer, the cost of manually cleaning a bin is over $1 per hour. The minimum labor cost of manually cleaning thousands of bins of fruit per year can total almost $94,000, according to the customer. Even taking into account operating costs, it is estimated the yearly saving achieved from having in place the automatic Bin Scrubber totals more than $66,000.
“The value proposition of the Bin Scrubber is in labor and water savings,” explains Siddle. “As a result, customers can expect payback in as little as 36 months.”
The modern unit now in use across a swathe of produce categories is a far cry from the original prototype developed in 2007. “Although the brush head has stayed consistent since the beginning, we have made improvements to the modern version, including making the materials more robust and modifying the design so it is compatible with a while range of bins,” says Siddle.
In more recent years, the Bin Scrubber has expanded into a range of solutions, including the T-Series Bin Scrubber, which has been specially adapted for customers in the nut industry, and even more recently the “Flip and Wash”.
Developed to meet the needs of customers handling delicate products, such as fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, the Flip and Wash replaces the brush head with high pressure jets of water for a complete hygienic offering.
But whatever model of the Bin Scrubber a customer decides to opt for, they are equally effective either as a standalone piece of equipment or as part of an existing line. “As well as having the best cleaning mechanism we have seen in the industry, the Bin Scrubber offers flexibility that means it can fit with any produce operation,” Siddle adds.