TECH LEADER: David Andreatta received $250,000 from the Queensland Government to install an automated tomato sorting system. It will scan each piece of fruit 500 times using cameras and sensors program to pick up specific defects.
TECH LEADER: David Andreatta received $250,000 from the Queensland Government to install an automated tomato sorting system. It will scan each piece of fruit 500 times using cameras and sensors program to pick up specific defects. Emma Boughen

High tech machines to take over Ballandean packing shed

KOOL Country Packers is set to become an Australian leader by using automated technology to sort good tomatoes from the bad.

The Ballandean business landed a $250,000 grant from the Queensland Government to install a sophisticated camera system along its tomato-sorting conveyor belt.

Owner David Andreatta said the New Generation Inspectrum 2 Tomato MLS Grader eliminated human error and identified tomatoes' weight, colour and blemishes accurately.

"The main reason we went with this type of grader is we wanted more consistency in our pack, to grade more fruit in the same time," he said.

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In an average year the business packs about 2200 tonne of tomatoes but Mr Adreatta said there was enough demand in the market to supply much more. It took 12 months find the right system.

When Mr Andreatta called the equipment supplier, Compac, it suggested using his business as trial site to see how far it could push the video recognition system.

"They wanted to double the number of cameras and paid for an extra six to be installed in the machinery," he said.

"This will be a first for tomatoes, but the technology is used for other fruit.

"We are very pleased as it will set us up going forward and we will have the efficiency to stay relevant."

The system scans every piece of fruit 500 times using sensors and cameras configured to target specific defects.

Kool Country Packers is one of 15 businesses in Queensland to receive a rural economic development grant from the state government.

The upgrade will support 30 new jobs when complete.

The Queensland Government allocated $10 million for the rural economic development grants and about $3.3million was given to agribusiness in the first round. It estimated the grants will create about 600 jobs across the state.

To apply for the grant visit qrida.qld.gov.au.