Key Technology introduces the new Grape Receiving and Inspection Platform (GRIP). Revolutionizing the traditional sorting table area, the stainless steel GRIP receives the entire contents of the fruit bin and meters out an even flow of grape clusters for inspection without bridging or plugging. This new system helps wineries improve product quality while redirecting labor to other tasks.
Compared to bin tippers, which require operators to periodically actuate the tipping or manually pull product from the bin to the inspection table, Key's automated GRIP presents a more uniform layer of product for inspection. Unlike systems that rely on a forklift operator to meter product, GRIP receives the entire bin at once, freeing the operator to handle other tasks.
"In the past, we've had two folk lift drivers dedicated to loading the inspection table. One would stay at the hopper, dumping a little at a time so the inspection table wouldn't bridge, while the other cleaned the last bin and picked up a new one. But with the high cost of labor, we decided to look for a better solution," noted Jean-FranÃ§ois Pellet, Managing Partner of Artifex Wine Company, a custom crush facility in Walla Walla, Washington. "With Key's Grape Receiving and Inspection Platform, we save a driver and a fork lift because we can dump the entire bin at one time. But more importantly, the even flow of product helps us maximize quality. Product comes to the inspection table at a perfectly constant flow to give us time to inspect it well. And the Key equipment also controls the flow of product to the crusher/destemmer. The equipment is awesome."
GRIP features a specially designed hopper and vibratory shaker, which present the grapes at an ideal speed for spotting and removing undesirable fruit and field debris. This new system allows winemakers to put only flawless berries behind their labels, not leaves, raisined clusters, or Material Other than Grapes (MOG).
An adjustable speed control allows GRIP to handle up to 10 tons of product per hour. Optimizing the feed rate enables the system to display product evenly for thorough inspection and protects grapes from being crushed under the weight of other grapes. Additionally, the even flow of product through GRIP presents an even flow to downstream destemming/crushing equipment to further improve line performance and product quality. Gentle handling prevents bruising and tannin release.
Stainless steel construction satisfies the most stringent sanitation demands. Fast and easy cleaning reduces downtime when the line changes from one varietal to another. Designed for years of dependable, maintenance-free performance, GRIP belongs to Key's proven Iso-Flo® family of vibratory conveyors.