Established nearly 25 years ago, Monson Fruit is dedicated to ensuring both global and domestic deliveries of only the highest quality produce throughout the year.
Monson Fruit was one of the first packhouses in the world to receive Hectre’s Spectre Top Down technology and is now gaining massive volumes of fruit size data, detecting and sizing up to 5,000 apples per truck as they arrive at Monson’s receiving sites.
During the 2022 US apple season, Monson Fruit claimed the record for the most number of trucks scanned and apples sized in one day with 43 trucks and more than 103,000 apples sized!
We are always looking to continue to grow and for ways to speed up the receiving process. Prior to implementing Spectre Top Down, like most packhouses, we had a very cumbersome, time-consuming process, requiring a lot of employees at a very high cost. Spectre Top Down offered a much speedier and efficient process, with larger sample sizes and incredibly accurate results.
I was very skeptical when Spectre Top Down was first brought to my attention by our field team. How do you just take a picture of the top of the bin and get accurate results? I didn't think it was possible. I have been very pleasantly surprised. The proof is in the pudding. Spectre is accurate and fast, and the data is easy to access. I'm very pleased with what I've seen and how it has helped with the scheduling process.
Fruit size is a factor for all areas of the business, especially production, with the production flow being a crucial part of our business model. We have to keep the production line moving as efficiently as possible. Understanding the size of every lot coming in helps us plan and yield higher FOBs (the return on packs per bin).
Size can also make a significant difference for growers. For example, if they have small fruit, three or four months from now, it will be worth a lot more money. If we know that it is smaller fruit, we can put it in a long-term CA (controlled atmosphere) room and save it for when it will yield a higher return on the pack per bin and gain a higher return for the grower.
Before Spectre Top Down, we relied on people in the field and the receiving docks to size the apples with sizing rings and calipers. People would also estimate - this seems like an 88 or a 138. Obviously, that’s not very accurate or efficient, and they are handling the fruit, which isn’t ideal.
Previously, for every 60-bin truckload, we would aim to sample maybe 50 apples per truck. It was time-consuming and trucks would get skipped due to the pace we needed to keep.
Spectre Top Down gives us a lot more data, from a lot more apples, without having to handle the fruit, and it’s ten times faster.
With Spectre Top Down, we can decide right off the bat where we will allocate the fruit. Having certainty around allocation means we can keep the packline running with fewer stops and starts. It also avoids having 100 people standing around waiting for decisions or changes to be made, which is not very cost-efficient.
The optimum size and the optimum color give the optimum return, which provides the greatest return for the grower and that's what we're focused on. With Spectre Top Down, we can be consistent with the lot sizes that are hitting the line and schedule appropriately.
We can also avoid situations where the sales team has made commitments only to discover the fruit we actually have, is too small or large. In those situations, we have to hold the fruit until it gets repacked, which decreases returns for everyone.
Having Spectre Top Down is a no-brainer. We can easily see that within a short period of time, the return on investment means it will pay for itself.
The data that we've collected this year has been amazing and has definitely helped us to make decisions that would have otherwise been harder. It has been a low crop yield year in the industry, but with Spectre Top Down’s size and color data, we’ve been able to hold fruit back until we see higher prices in the market.
Forty-three trucks, 103,000 thousand apples in one day is absolutely fantastic. It would usually take a full team of 10 people a week to manually size the volume of apples we now get from Spectre Top Down. It’s an amazing number!