FU-FRUIT, a leading Taiwanese wholesale distributor of fruit and cut fruit processors, built a new fruit processing factory that is one of the largest in Taiwan. The factory features energy-efficiency improvements and a system for the banana ripening process that reduces product loss.

As one of Taiwan's largest wholesale distributors of fruit and cut fruit processors, FU-FRUIT Co., Ltd. (FU-FRUIT) collects, processes, distributes, and exports fruit imported to Taiwan and harvested domestically.

FU-FRUIT provides fresh fruit to customers, including major supermarket chains operating globally and convenience store chains entering foreign markets.

In 2022, FU-FRUIT relocated its factory from Zhonghe in New Taipei City and built its new Tucheng factory. It is one of Taiwan's largest fruit processing factories, based on protecting the natural environment and sustainable operations.

The Zhonghe factory also used Mayekawa facilities, and we were given the task of designing the system for this project on the recommendation of a leading Taiwanese distribution company that is a business partner of FU-FRUIT. We were recognized for having delivered systems for multiple projects in Taiwan as a Japanese manufacturer and for our equipment and systems that meet needs in the food industry and food applications, including agricultural products.

Factory concepts of protecting the natural environment and sustainable operations

The Tucheng factory’s protections for the natural environment

  • Green building design
  • Green building labels
  • Recycling of process water throughout the factory
  • Rooftop solar power system
  • Energy savings and CO₂ emissions reductions
  • Reduced plastic use
  • Green transportation

Heat pump system delivers high-efficiency cooling and hot water supply

We designed a heat pump system using ammonia and an ethylene glycol brine unit, contributing to the protection measures of energy savings and CO₂ emissions reductions, and delivered it to the Tucheng factory.

The system regulates temperature in various chambers, such as cooling the ripening chambers, while also creating hot water at temperatures between 50℃ and 55℃ for employees to take showers and process hot water. This is done by collecting the high-temperature, high-pressure heat from the ammonia refrigerant with a sub-condenser and using it as the heat source for hot water used in the factory. This allows the system to safely meet the factory's hot water supply needs without relying on gas or other combustion-derived energy. It can also provide both cooling and hot water supply needs with one system, resulting in higher energy efficiency and increased energy savings in the factory.

Shifting quality management to be driven by data instead of skilled technicians' know-how

FU-FRUIT's system for ripening bananas makes the other factory's concept of sustainable operations possible.

Until now, skilled workers have built up their know-how based on their own experience on the job and their senses, which are not easily transferred to others. At FU-FRUIT, recruiting and developing human resources with deep knowledge of the ripening process needed to store bananas while preserving them at high quality was an issue.

So Mayekawa engineers with subject-matter expertise in the agricultural industry and research and development came over from Japan to conduct field research and tests together with staff from FU-FRUIT. They obtained data from each process and identified issues. The Taiwanese project members subsequently used those results to design the system and create conditions enabling production continuity without losing the relevant know-how even if the employees changed.

Building a ripening system customized for Taiwan

The distance between the places of production and the place of consumption is very short in Taiwan, and depending on the transportation process, there may be a significant difference in temperature between the warehouse and the processing factory. This causes variation in quality after ripening.

So, we created a system to provide an even temperature by innovating the cooling method at the processing factory. The system incorporates a program to automatically maintain optimal environmental conditions, which was created based on repeated tests with skilled technicians and quantifying CO₂ and O₂ concentrations, temperature, relative humidity, and other factors.

  • How the CO₂ concentration is managed was changed from having skilled technicians open and close the ripening chamber door based on their sensory perception to automated ventilation
  • In addition, a system for warehouse control of time, temperature, humidity, volume of ethylene application, and other factors was created based on value measurements inside the warehouse

The system created for the ripening process enables the management of bananas at a stable temperature and humidity level, contributing to reduced product loss.

We asked Chin-Fu Chiu from FU-FRUIT about how operations are going after the launch of the Tucheng factory and why FU-FRUIT chose Mayekawa as its partner.

—Why did you choose Mayekawa as your partner for this project?

When we renovated the facilities at the (former) Zhonghe factory, we also had Mayekawa systems installed there, which were cutting-edge then, so we already had a relationship with Mayekawa.

We received proposals for the Tucheng factory from multiple facilities companies, but Mayekawa's proposal featured advanced technology that would contribute to safety and energy conservation, such as a heat pump system that would reduce gas consumption. In addition, its ripening process system technology would contribute to sustainable operations. So, when we decided to relocate and build a new factory, Mayekawa aligned with our concept.

We visited Mayekawa's Moriya Plant in Japan several times and toured its manufacturing facilities and operations. Mayekawa not only provided the facilities but also worked with us on the ripening production issues we faced, which was reassuring and helped build a great deal of trust.

Mayekawa's engineers, with subject-matter expertise in agricultural products, visited our former factory and dialogued with us. Their focus on banana quality, data collection, and system validation has significantly improved banana quality and eliminated variance.

Mayekawa's technologies are advanced, and they have earned our trust. We can trust them not only in their advanced technologies but also in them as partners. This is Mayekawa's value.

—How are things after the launch of operations and what do you expect from Mayekawa?

Construction of the Tucheng factory was completed in August 2021. Compared with the former factory, the new ripening system eliminates 99% of the color and ripening variance seen after the ripening process. Color and peel gloss are now uniform, and the bananas have the right firmness and a pleasingly chewy texture. The system has also won praise from delivery destinations, with feedback that banana quality can now be preserved in stores for longer.

In terms of operations, using IT to automate controls in ripening process management means that anyone can easily perform operations and management without having to rely solely on skilled technicians.
The operation of both the cooling and ripening systems is stable, which makes us very satisfied. We intend to continue our win-win relationship by having Mayekawa perform regular service and maintenance.

—What are your future plans for FU-FRUIT?

Integrity forms the foundation and driving principle of our company. We will continue providing our customers with 100% service. FU-FRUIT has developed environmental conditions and facilities for exporting high-quality fruit grown in Taiwan while maintaining its freshness. Our products' quality is sure to satisfy consumers around the world.
We plan to continue partnering with Mayekawa on new business ventures.

Our mission is to create a sustainable future by pursuing optimal systems,
equipment and technology while working side-by-side with customers.

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