Labor shortages have affected many industries and producers across the globe over recent years and the wine industry has been no less impacted. Since at least 2021, rising wage bills combined with increasing restrictions on seasonal labor in many countries have put producers under pressure. For many, greater automation could play a key role in alleviating this pressure, and JBT solutions are already starting to prove valuable.

With an estimated worth of $43 billion (US Wine Institute), California is responsible for 80% of all wine production in the US, but such figures have not insulated the industry from the labor shortfall. According to wine industry reports, a stricter seasonal worker regime combined with a reluctance of US workers to enter the sector have contributed to the shortage.

Automating cleaning

One JBT solution already supporting a leading California-based vineyard is the Bin Scrubber; an innovative system that removes a labor-intensive process and frees up essential workers for other tasks.

“Labor shortages, especially in California, are a big issue and lots of companies are trying to automate as many processes as they can,” explains JBT’s General Manager for Fresh Produce Technologies, Christina Campos.

“Bins are widely used in the wine industry for collecting grapes, but these have to be cleaned to ensure food safety, which can be time consuming and labor intensive. Automation can help achieve more effective cleaning and ensure better food safety.”

Making savings and improving safety

JBT’s Bin Scrubber, which is capable of cleaning a bin every 20 seconds, is superior to other bin cleaning solutions thanks to its unique brush-head mechanism which mechanically removes soil in a fast, efficient process. With a throughput of up to 180 bins per hour, the Bin Scrubber can also save significant time and money that would previously be invested in manual cleaning.

Food safety and water savings are built-in to the Bin Scrubber. Recycled, sanitized water can be reused multiple times to clean bins, while the system is also considerably more thorough than manual cleaning. Multiple jets and brushes reach all areas of a bin, which can sometimes be missed during manual hosing.

Successful installations

Rob Goetz, JBT Equipment Manager for Fresh Produce Technologies, has firsthand experience of the potential of the Bin Scrubber to deliver successes. “In the wine industry, we’ve recently had a successful installation of a Bin Scrubber, which cleans the bins after they transport the grapes into the processing facility,” he says.

“They were doing it previously by hand, but with food safety in mind they wanted to go for automated bin cleaning. We also added a heat element to the recycled water system – combined with the sanitized water option, those two things ensured they would have cleaned, sanitized bins.”

FIND OUT MORE about JBT’s Bin Scrubber solutions