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Vacuum Picker Sucks Apples Out Of Basket
Phil Brown’s self-propelled vacuum apple picker has new picker-carried baskets. Apples placed in the baskets are sucked out through foam-lined vacuum tubes to packing crates. When the machine first debuted (Vol. 34, No. 4), pickers would place apples in a trough at the end of the tubes.
  “It’s much more natural to pick apples into a basket without having to find a trough at the end of the tube,” explains Brown, Phil Brown Welding. “This way you don’t even have to look.”
  The basket is attached to a harness worn by the picker. The basket pivots on the tube so it’s easy to move around.
The machine has sheltered platforms on either side. Foot controls allow the pickers to move the platform forward or back and up or down to reach apples from 8 to 14 ft. Pickers can also walk alongside the workstation to reach lower apples.
Pickers set their apples into the baskets where they are whisked away to be distributed gently into a 20-bushel bin. The apples move at 12 ft. per second, landing in a foam-lined pocket and gently rolling out onto other apples. When the bin is full, it is moved aside and replaced, giving pickers a 45 to 60-sec. break approximately every 10 min.
  Michigan State University studies showed workers on an earlier version of the machine filled 25 to 50 percent more bins per day than traditional pickers on ladders with bags. Bruising was reduced by 10 percent.
  Brown says the new baskets are increasing efficiency even more. “They are working very well, just about zero bruising,” says Brown.
  Tests have shown that 4 pickers using baskets can pick from 14 to 20 bushels per man-hour.
  Brown also increased the size of the motor on the machine to 60 hp, giving it sufficient power for hills and even snow-covered orchards. He says the machine can be used for a variety of firm round fruit and vegetables. The platform can also be used for other orchard work such as trellising, pruning and hand thinning.
  It’s priced at $138,000 for the entire package.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Phil Brown Welding, 4750 8 Mile Rd. NW, Conklin, Mich. 49403 (ph 616 784-3046; Phil@philbrownwelding.com; www.philbrownwelding.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5