One million. It’s a huge number, whether you’re writing it down, saying it, saving it, and especially so, if you’re spending it. This month, Hectre’s award-winning early fruit sizing AI solution, Spectre, ticked over one million scans. This means that more than one million bins, totes and lugs of fruit, have been scanned by Hectre’s Spectre app.
At The Beginning
When we began market fit research for Spectre back in 2019, we knew there was a need for better access to early fruit size data. But when you develop a technology solution, there are always so many unknowns.
Hectre had only been in business for two years at that stage. We were a small scrappy startup (we’re still a scrappy startup, just a little bigger now!) We would be working with computer vision and machine learning AI tools and didn’t know how long the technology build would take. Or what obstacles we would encounter. And whilst we visualized and planned for big things, we just had no idea how broadly Spectre would be embraced by the market.
What we were 100% certain of though, was the need.
Solving A Big Diverse Need
We still remember those early conversations with growers who told us “If only I could do something with all of these photos on my phone… I would love to know what size my apples are.”
And the receiving operators who were told they were being sent a certain size fruit, but when it arrived, it wasn’t that size at all. I’m sure we saw actual hair being pulled out by packhouse managers who were having to play guessing games when it came to setting up their packlines and drops. Anyone keen on having 100 staff standing around idle while you reset the line and find more fruit???
And the growers who had to wait months and months to receive data on what size, and therefore price, their produce would achieve. And we can’t forget the poor sales teams who would cross their fingers every time they committed to an order, in the hope that they really did have the fruit they thought they were promising to a valuable buyer…
Solutions For All Shapes And Sizes
Those needs are still there, and in fact they’ve been magnified now with the squeeze on margins that practically every business in the supply chain is facing. The difference is, some now have Hectre’s Spectre AI on their side.
The dedicated team we have at Hectre, have now delivered nine Spectre solutions to the fresh produce industry:
1. Spectre Hand-Held – Size: Early size data straight off your phone
2. Spectre Top Down – Size: Early size data straight off the truck
3. Spectre Hand-Held – Color: Early color data straight off your phone
4. Spectre Top Down – Color: Early color data straight off the truck
5. Spectre for Apples: Computer vision models for apple varieties
6. Spectre for Citrus: Computer vision models for oranges, lemons, limes and mandarins
7. Spectre for Cherries: Computer vision models for delicious premium cherries
8. Spectre for Pears: Computer vision models for shapely pears
9. Spectre for Onions: Computer vision models for, yes you guessed it, we even size onions!
The World Tour With Spectre
In Argentina, Kleppe S.A. are using Hectre’s Spectre solution to gain size data on their apples and pears. So are BC Tree Fruits in Canada. Verfrut in Chile, have a massive 3,300 hectares of orchards in production, and are just one of the many Chilean businesses that have joined Hectre. Like many customers, they are gaining the benefits of not only early size data, but early color data too.
Located in South Tyrol, Italy, Clementi is using Spectre’s size plus color data for their apple production. And Mexico’s Grupo La Norteñita are doing the same. Jump across the globe and Gourmet is using Spectre to size onions over in the Netherlands. This comes after New Zealand customer AS Wilcox and Sons became Hectre’s first onion customer.
Moving through Europe and you’ll find the great team at Wil-Sad, using Spectre to size their apples in Poland. Naša Jabuka are based in Serbia and are gaining both early size and early color data with Spectre. Lovers of apples, pears, oranges, tangerines and peaches would love Nufri in Spain who grow it all, and are also gaining the Spectre advantage.
Adrian Scripps Ltd in the UK and Spectre originals Sage Fruit in the US, round out our alphabetical virtual tour around the globe, where both are using the valuable combination of Spectre Hand-Held plus Spectre Top Down to optimize their operations.
A Gratitude Attitude
Along the way, Hectre’s innovation strength has been recognized with six international business and innovation awards. We are grateful for the recognition.
We know there are many agtech companies out there trying to deliver great things to industry. And for some, it just doesn’t work out. Maybe they can’t gain the funding to push through the very challenging R&D years. Or they lose sight of the needs they’re addressing, and go off track. Or the value proposition just isn’t strong enough to generate revenue.
As many reading this blog will know, building a company is extremely challenging. And bringing one to a stage of success is even more challenging. We remain humble, focused, and appreciative of everyone who has supported us.
Delivering More For The Benefit Of Industry
Very soon, we’ll be helping even more growers and packers around the world to optimize their pick, better manage their storage, reduce fruit loss, improve their packaging management, reduce packhouse downtime, and gain an optimal price for their fruit.
More Hectre innovation is coming. More models for more crop types. More solutions to more problems. And more benefits to the amazing people that form our community.
Thanks for taking the time to read a piece of our history. And if you’re one of our valued customers, thank you for joining us.