As the world struggles with a seemingly overwhelming food wastage crisis, RipeTime has developed technology to help deal with the problem before it starts.
RipeTime technology cost-effectively detects extremely low levels of gas in the atmosphere which is used to track fruit quality as it is moved through the supply chain. Our technology essentially “smells & tastes” fruit and vegetables, allowing selection decisions months before current methods.
Our devices collect atmospheric data immediately after the produce has been harvested, providing highly accurate predication of ripening; without even opening the box.
Our ability to detect hormonal ethylene activity, rot related ethylene activity and general volatile gas outcomes from decay and smell/flavour consequences of ripeness in climacteric produce, non-climacteric produce, flowers and leaf-root stem vegetables is now more sensitive than any other system.
To date, RipeTime technology has successfully
Research & Development
RipeTime started as a quiet, fundamental research project aimed at exploring the core idea of the technology: using simple filter materials as collectors, concentrating atmospheres by ‘emptying’ the filter into a small volume.
Our first vision for this technology was in the evaluation of fruit post-harvest – i.e. once the produce is sorted and boxed ready to store/sell. The scale of the waste experienced in all produce supply chains is staggering in sheer size.
The most advanced and thorough post-harvest operators, supply chain operators and wholesalers see losses of 10% between post-harvest processing and delivery to market. This amounts to millions of tonnes per day world-wide.
In early January 2015 we heard news that the new varietals and treatment methods were about to result in a best ever NZ kiwifruit harvest, so we made a commitment to deliver a first prototype, field trial capable execution of the ideas that had crystalised out of our 3 years of knowledge building. This meant a highly accelerated Applied Research phase to refine the science into things that worked, and worked the same every time. This was followed by a super rapid Development phase that gave us devices to go into boxes, and electronics to read/interpret the gas collected off the fruit.
We charged ahead with all this and had products ready to trial in August 2015 – and began evaluating 5 tonnes of fruit, from 5 different growers, in a coolstore in TePuke, New Zealand with our supportive market partner, SEEKA. SEEKA Kiwifruit Industries LTD grade, pack and store about a third of the New Zealand kiwifruit harvest and is publicly listed on the New Zealand stock exchange.
By October 2015 we knew we had achieved the outcomes we were targeting, so we developed a second generation of the test system ready for the next harvest starting in March 2016. We delivered on time, with enough materials and equipment for a scaled up trial on 66 grower lines, approx. 35 tonnes of fruit – representative of thousands of tonnes of fruit.
While setting up for this, it became clear that the industry needs to know about wider fruit store atmospheres across large coolstores, as well as inside individual fruit boxes. Based on this new piece of understanding, we quickly developed an embodiment of the technology that can hang on the wall of the coolstore and report in changes in the atmosphere every 2 hours.
All of our trials are pointing towards new Fundamental Research opportunities, requiring growth in our team undertaking applied research.
RipeTime is an early stage business with some rapidly advancing core technology and product developments happening, that are progressing hand in hand with an field validation process.
Food Safety at RipeTime
Food safety is paramount at RipeTime and we are dedicated to providing a product that is completely safe for use in the fresh produce market.
We are currently working towards EU and US FDA approval with an international third party certification body. This includes rigorous testing and product analysis. Work on additional certifications for all of our intended markets will be started in the coming months.
Manufacturing of our sensors will be undertaken in accordance with in accredited manufacturing plants with a minimum of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) plan in place.
Tag + Reader
RipeTime has created a unique label and reader system that integrates into a post-harvest supply chain to allow supply chain operators the ability to quickly, cheaply and accurately differentiate fruit by ripeness which allow for vital decisions to be made earlier and more accurately.
This product consists of in-pack label based on a breakthrough ethylene absorber, a robust, class leading soon to be hand held reader containing an ethylene measuring module and a barcode reader, wirelessly connected to the internet; and a cloud based application managing heuristics data and reporting in real time.
Ethylene data is automatically uploaded to the application, and based on the current and historical data from a pack, a RipeTime report about the current ripeness of the produce can be generated and displayed to the supply chain, quality management offering full and early control of the review process with zero produce handling until a problem box, pallet or shipment has been identified.
How it works
The tag is included in the packaged fruit post-harvest box and from 30-minutes exposure, the label, when read, provides a true reading of the atmosphere in the box relating to Ethylene and other volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) present.
The reader heats the tag and the concentrated captured ethylene is released and the levels are recorded in the RipeTime reader. This data is then wirelessly transmitted to the RipeTime database/data engine. This data can give a reading that will rank the ripeness of fruit tested, for example, which box’s pallets are most or least ripe.
As more data is gathered throughout a season, a prediction as to optimum ripeness period can be given. The data can be provided in near real-time reporting driven by the RipeTime data engine.
The challenges in the storage of produce are well understood. At the top of every cool-room operators mind after temperature, is ethylene – nothing else has a bigger influence. RipeTime has developed a product which targets background ethylene levels: The Environmental Sensor.
Using similar technology as the ‘Tag + Reader’, this product operates in cool stores and in shipping/supply chain to constantly test the level of ethylene of fruit and vegetables whilst in transit. Working as an atmospheric analysis system, store room operators no longer need to worry about: gas chromatography; with all its costs, when to ventilate their store rooms, or whether or not ethylene scrubbers are functioning as they need to – our environmental sensor operates as early warning technology, identifying damaging gasses before the issue spreads. The environmental sensor runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, informing you of events as they happen, constantly testing the level of ethylene in the air and reporting on developing trends.
The environmental sensor does this by a means of patented gas concentration and evaluation system, embodied in a low maintenance, web/cellular enabled and low power device that simply keeps you informed.
Not only does the environmental sensor provide accurate readings, it also features:
- Un-interrupted streaming data at power loss
- Full remote monitoring capability
- Customisable firmware to suit all applications
- Temperature range -10°C to +60°C
- Customisable industrial design
By utilising our technology in the form of the environmental sensor, the service also includes:
- Streaming data to your desktop and phone
- Tests up to every two hours
- Customised reporting formats
- Exception alarms
- Full-service contract, including automated service call out and onsite software upgrade.
RipeTime is currently developing this technology in multiple environments due to the promising application it has in other areas including medical, chemical and natural settings.