ImpacTrack – a new, low-cost data logger with a family of synthetic food shapes, developed by Martin Lishman Ltd – has impressed the judges of the Innovation Awards at LAMMA 2019, who have awarded it a Gold Medal in the Future Innovations category. Using low-cost digital Agri-Tech solutions to meet the challenge of reducing food waste in agriculture has been the driving force behind the development of this novel concept.
“The fact that 1.3bn tons of food are wasted globally each year, with almost 60% of crops spoilt, damaged or wasted during post-harvest operations, presents a huge challenge to the food production industry”, says Dr Gavin Lishman, Managing Director of Martin Lishman Ltd. “But digital Agri-Tech solutions, leading to more efficient post-harvest methods, do not need to cost the earth and can reduce losses to as low as 1-2%.”
ImpacTrack is a small data logger cube that can be installed within the packaging of any fresh produce to monitor temperature and impact shock during transit over any distance by road, rail, sea or air. The data gathered can be downloaded at the end of the journey via Bluetooth to any smart phone or tablet using the ML Sensing App. The logger can also be encased in a 3D printed shape that mimics the size, shape and density of the fruit or vegetable being processed, which allows real-time monitoring or recording of damage during handling by machines or humans at any stage from the field to the shop floor.
The ImpacTrack dummy shape reproduces the movement characteristics of fruit and vegetables prone to damage and bruising during handling and transport and therefore gets as close as possible to a realistic representation of impact ‘black spots’ in handling machinery. If handling is in water, as with apples, the dummy is also able to float with the real fruit. Shapes already created are Gala apple, sweetcorn, Haas avocado, carrot, parsnip, strawberry, potato and egg. Other shapes such as onion, mango, banana and peach are equally possible.
ImpacTrack is a vital quality control tool for the reduction of damage and bruising whilst fruit or vegetables are in transit or in the picking or packing process. The ability to monitor impacts during these processes will result in fewer discarded items, leading to less waste and higher production yields.
ImpacTrack is believed to be the first low-cost device to record both impact and temperature while also mimicking the characteristics of the produce being monitored. As well as reducing financial losses due to waste, it will help handlers and shippers to be more aware of the effects of their processes, both positive and negative, leading to more sympathetic handling systems, fewer insurance claims and potentially lower premiums.
“ImpacTrack is an example of a game-changing technology that can be used worldwide and adapted to suit all types and sizes of production and handling facility,” says Dr Lishman, “It will make a significant contribution to the challenge of reducing waste losses and increasing food production.”