ARM Hub works with banana farmers to automate the industry


ARM Hub has partnered with North Queensland Banana Farmers and Hort Innovation to adopt more continuous improvement and automation technology, and deliver the Banana Industry Strategic Investment Plan. 

The Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) has identified de-handing of bananas as a labour-intensive process that could be transformed using Industry 4.0 technology.  

“Australia is known for its array of fresh fruit, however the challenges the horticulture industry has faced over the last few years with natural disasters and working visa reduction, has hit hard,” ARM Hub CEO associate Professor Cori Stewart said. 

“Together we need to take a proactive approach to address these challenges, to reduce crop loss, damage to land, as well as banana price hikes in supermarkets. We are pleased that ARM Hub is part of the solution.” 

ARM Hub expert Dr Chris Lehnert, along with designer Anthony Franze and robotics engineer Troy Cordie, have been working with North Queensland banana farmers to understand the production process and identify any potential opportunities for incorporating robotics and automation in de-handing. 

“As we aim to address the National Manufacturing Priorities for Food and Beverages, we must ensure we are taking action at a grassroots level by addressing the challenges for our farmers,” Lehnert said. 

“The banana industry and the Australian horticulture industry at large can significantly benefit from incorporating Industry 4.0 technology into their processes. And technology advances so quickly, it is timely to take a closer look both at current practices and the technological developments over recent years that could potentially make a difference.” 

The ARM Hub expert team just returned from a three-day intensive with farmers in Tully and Innisfail and will now prepare a report to Hort Innovation, growers and stakeholders in North Queensland on potential technologies and recommended next steps. 

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