AgriEngineering, Vol. 5, Pages 941-949: Survey and Cost–Benefit Analysis of Sorting Technology for the Sweetpotato Packing Lines

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AgriEngineering, Vol. 5, Pages 941-949: Survey and Cost–Benefit Analysis of Sorting Technology for the Sweetpotato Packing Lines

AgriEngineering doi: 10.3390/agriengineering5020058

Authors:
Lu
Harvey
Shankle

Supplying high-quality fresh sweetpotato roots to the consumer requires sorting the roots by quality and removing culls deemed unsuitable for fresh markets at packing facilities. The sorting operation is traditionally performed by manual labor. This study surveyed the sorting lines of seven commercial sweetpotato packinghouses in Mississippi during the packing season of 2021. Sorting for defects entirely relied on labor, which accounted for up to 50% of the total labor in packinghouses. A cost–benefit analysis was conducted to determine the cost-effectiveness of implementing automated sorting technology as an alternative to manual sorting. The net benefits of automated sorting depended on labor savings and equipment costs. Machines at or less than USD 100,000 were economically beneficial with payback periods of less than three years when four or more workers could be replaced, while machines of USD 350,000 and higher would be not justifiable when quick economical returns were sought. Automated sorting promises to increase the profitability and competitiveness of fresh market sweetpotato packing industries.

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