Automation equipment is becoming a popular choice for growers struggling with labor shortages. But it’s important to remember that not all growing containers are created equal. If you’re not using automation compatible containers with your new state-of-the-art equipment, you run the risk of internal damage which may not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
Automation compatible containers should have uniform spacing between the container rims when stacked and a defined round or square rim for automated de-stacking tools to grab for easy denesting. If there’s not enough space for the automated flange, lugs or spool type strippers to grab the rim, you run the risk of pulling multiple containers into the machine all at once, with the loose containers becoming jammed in the equipment.
For growers familiar with thermoform containers, they do pose some limitations you must consider before implementing. While they are promoted as automation compatible containers, thermoform containers are not an ideal choice for dispensing equipment based on denesting challenges, but can be used with fork systems if the rims protrude sufficiently.