Each year, Europe produces 965 million tonnes of mushrooms. Consumer demand for unblemished mushrooms has negatively affected the competitiveness of this industry due to high labour costs. With EU funding, the CHAMPI-ON project advanced a fully automated picking, handling and packaging system for mushroom growers. Of particular importance was that the white-skinned mushrooms were not damaged during this process. The system was designed to work on Dutch shelves, a common growing system for mushrooms that allows for the introduction of machinery. It consists of a vision system, a gripper, a stem cutter and a packaging system. CHAMPI-ON's design uses a light, a camera and an actuator coupled with software algorithms to select ripe mushrooms. A three-fingered gripper picks the mushroom, after which suction is applied to allow the stem to be cut. The mushroom is then transported to a standard punnet with a shaking mechanism to ensure best use of space within the container. The system also incorporates an easy-to-use user interface. A demonstration video for the CHAMPI-ON system can be viewed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y44MyQ39d00 & feature=youtu.be (here) . Researchers estimate that the product will reduce labour by up to 60 %, resulting in much-improved industry competitiveness.
Automated, mushroom, picking machine, high labour cost, handling and packaging, Dutch shelves, punnet