Jan 17, 2020
New robotic arm used to move and arrange boxes is featured at the university's Bee Sweet Citrus Processing Laboratory. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

New technology to provide students with industrial experience

Fresno State unveiled a new robotic arm, which is used to move and arrange boxes at the university’s Bee Sweet Citrus Processing Laboratory on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Grosse Industrial Technology Building’s Room 154.

According to a university news release, the Fuji Automatic Numerical Control (FANUC) arm, which has a reach of nearly seven feet and a payload capacity of 150 pounds, is used for inspection, packaging and machine tending.

The laboratory and equipment is used for a three-unit industrial technology course emphasizing citrus processing line operation, safety and maintenance. The course is available to students from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

The FANUC robotic arm was made possible by a recent gift from Bee Sweet Citrus. It was integrated into the existing packing line by Klippenstein Corporation of Fresno, the release stated.

The Laboratory and initial equipment was made possible by a $600,000 contribution from Bee Sweet Citrus and its president and founder Jim Marderosian, who graduated from Fresno State in 1979 as an agricultural business major.

The automated packing line uses an ultraviolet fluorescence (black light) to inspect and remove citrus with poor peel quality and display. It also cleans, washes and sorts up to 18 pieces of ripe fruit per second to be boxed and labeled.

The packing line, which was introduced in February 2017, is the first of its kind on a college campus, according to the release.

Dr. Athanasios Alexandrou, professor and chair of the industrial technology department, said that having access to this technology makes students more competitive when they go into the workforce.

“Not very many students have this type of experience on their resumes,” Alexandrou said. “Particularly here in the Central Valley where, as you know, the local economy is full of packing houses and food processing industries in general.”

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