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Design and Performance Tests of An Automatic Tomato Grading

Machine Based on Visual Evaluation

T. Herwanto, M. Muhaemin, D. Prijatna, M. Saukat, W.K. Sugandhi
Faculty of Agro-Industrial Technology, Padjadjaran University,
Kampus UNPAD Jatinangor, Jl. Raya Bandung-Sumedang km 21, Sumedang 35363,
E-mail: (corresponding author)

Keywords: tomato, grading machine, image processing.

Tomato is very popular in our society. Because its market is widely varied,
grading is a necessity to ensure that every customer get the desired quality and price of
tomato. Currently, tomato grading is conducted manually based on visual inspection
by skilled labor. Nevertheless, labor working in long hour may lead to inconsistent
results. Therefore it is necessary to devise a new method to grade tomato accurately
with high capacity. The objective of this research was to design and test an automatic
tomato grading machine based on visual evaluation. This research was conducted with
engineering method. Tomato grading was conducted based on its weight and maturity.
Both of these variables were calculated using image processing from captured image of
tomato. The machine was built with the following components: feeder, metering
device, image capturing box, and divider. Performance tests showed that the machine
has an efective capacity of 1200 tomato/hour with classification accuracy of 78%.
However, rough treatment during handling lead to mechanical bruise of 3,7% of
processed tomatoes.

Tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum) is widely popular and consumed in fresh or
processed products. It contains vitamin A as well as vitamin C which are vitals to our health
and one source of antioxidants (Sgherri et al., 2008). Due to high demand, tomato
production continues to increase. In the period of 2007 – 2011, the average increase of
production was 10%(BPS, 2012).
Consumers needs vary widely according to their income and preferences. In order
that the consumers obtain exactly what they needs, tomato has to be graded according to
consumer preferences. Grading process is conducted by large supplier of tomato to
supermarkets or middlemen that supply tomato to traditional markets. Currently, the process
is conducted manually by skilled labour. Althoug most suppliers specify grading criteria
based on predetermined weight and maturity, in reality tomato grading is conducted using
visual inspection only. This method is chosen because it requires short time, but less efficent
and require a lot of labors (Raji dan Alamutu, 2005). Other deficiences of this method are
that assesment tend to be subjective (Sun and Brosnan, 2003) and less consisten due to
fatigue on eye of the labor (Francis, 1980). Due to these deficiencies, it is necessary to
devise a new method of tomato grading which is accurate, consistent and has high capacity.
Image processing has been used to classify various agricultural product. Ahmad et al
(2004) had sucessfully determined the quality of mango used image processing techniques.
Similar techniques has been applied to mangosteen by Mulyono (2008) and to cucumber by
Halilintar (2010). Muhaemin et al (2012) has developed a model of tomato grading machine

based on the same technology. It could classify tomato with an accuracy of 96%.
Nevertheless, the machine still has low capacity such that it was inapropriate for commercial
applications. One of the reasons of this is that its feeding method is still implemented
The objective of this research was to design and test the performance of an automatic
tomato grading machine based on visual evaluation. It was expected that the capacity of the
machine would be higher than the capacity of a highly trained labor and could be a base for
commercially applicable machine used by supplier of vegetables and fruits.

Research was carried out in Laboratory of Farm Machinery and Equipment,
Agricultural Engineering Study Program, Faculty of Agro-industrial Technology, Pajajaran
University using engineering research method in to December 2012. This research contains
two main steps of research, i.e, design of electro-mechanical parts and design of image
processing and control programs. Detail of the procedure is given in Figure 1.
Basically, the research procedure was following these steps:
a. Identification of demand.
b. Design formulation
c. Design of mechanical parts. Special effort was paid to design mechanical feeder to
deliver one tomato at a time to conveyor from a tank full of tomatoes. This step was
critical to the machine since the image processing program was designed to process only
one tomato at a time.
d. Design of image processing and control programs. This was actually a modification from
previous one applied to model machine which used tomato quality table from CV
Bimandiri to determine tomato grade (Muhaemin, 2012). To facilitate quick chage in
quality criteria, this program adopt artificial neural network for tomato.
e. Fabrication. Machine was mainly fabricated in our laboratory. Only a few components
were custom built in other workshop.
f. Performance test. Performance tests were conducted using artificial tomato as well as the
real ones to understand the performance of designed machine.
g. Evaluation. Tests results were then compared to predetermined design criteria. If
necessary, some modifications may be performed.
Tomato was classified according to weight and maturity. Tomato maturity can easily
be recognized by its colour as mature tomato will turn to red from green colour.
Nevertheless, the exact criteria is left to the supplier who sale to the super market. In this
particular case, the used criteria was based on that used by CV Bimandiri which supplies
tomato to supermarkets located in Bandung and Jakarta (Table 1).
Previous research (Poetri, 2009) showed that normalized green could predict tomato
maturity very well. Therefore it was used in this resercah and computed as follows


Design concept
Design of this machine was based on previous one (Muhaemin, 2012) and a survey to
CV Bimandiri, in Lembang, Bandung which conduct the grading manually. The machine
composed of the following main components (Figure 2):

1. Tomato tank to keep tomato before grading process
2. Feeder. This componenst has a function to take one tomato at a time from tomato tank.
In order to prevent damage during picking, tank is filled with water.
3. Metering device. This component has a function to control timing and position of
tomatoes delivery and put them on conveyor with the right spacing.
4. Conveyor. This component brings tomato from metering device to divider and ensure
that its position during tranportation is not changed. During this process, tomato will
pass through image capturing box.
5. Image capturing box. The box contains lamps to provide consistent lighting to passing
tomato and camera to capture its image. The camera is connected to computer.
6. Divider. Its main function is to put tomato to the right container according to its grade.
This component is connected to funnels which direct tomato to slide into tomato
container. Stepper motor is used to drive this component.
7. Tomato containers serve to collect tomato after grading process. These components lie
under divider.
8. Computer. This component is the heart of the whole system and serve to determine the
time to capture tomato image, process the image, determine its grade and command
stepper motor to move divider to correct position acccording to the grade of incoming
tomato. To facilitate accurate control several position sensors were installed to detect the
position of tomato and divider.
Based on this design concept, then the machine was fabricated. To facilitate easy
design and testing, main component of this machine has its own electric motor as power
source. During design, speed of each component were calculated to match connected
component. Fabricated machine has a dimension of 4.7 m x 2.5 m x 1.7 m and requires
about 1500 W of power (Figure 2).

Early tests were conducted on every component of machine individually to evaluate
if the components works as intended. Later on, all component as a machine were also tested
to check the integration and syschronization of the machine as a unit. Test results showed
that all mechanical parts of the machine worked well according to design specifications.
Weight of tomato is one of two variables that determine the quality. Since the
machine has no weight sensor, the weight has to be predicted from captured image. Two
variables were used to predict weight, area of projected image and calculated volume of
tomato. Results showed that weight was best predicted with projected image area with a
coeficient of determination of 96.6% (Figure 4 and 5). This was somewhat different than the
previous one which used calculated volume as independent variable for the prediction
(Muhaemin et al., 2010).
In real life, produced tomato vary widely according to climate condition and local
cropping practice. Consequently, in reality quality criteria frequently change according to
available tomato. Although previous attempts to grade tomato using table for quality criteria
was very accurate, in real world use, it is quite difficult for machine operator to change
quality in short time. With neural network, quality criteria can easily be changed by
retraining the network with new data. Therefore, this time artifial neural network (ANN)
was used to determine tomato grade. The networks were developed with two inputs, one
output and 2 hidden layers. Several models were created using 15 to 25 nodes ini each
hidden layers. In order to get the best architecture, we developed 5 alternative models and
then trained with 150 tomato data (Tabel 1). From the table we could conclude that model

number 4 require the least amount of training time and this model would be used for further
testing with new data.
Testing was conducted using new data from 100 tomatoes and results showed that
ANN could classify tomato with an accuracy of 78%. This is quite low and it is necessary to
develop the ANN model further to increase its accuracy.
Correct classification by image processing program does not guarantee accurate
grading of tomato because, at the end, it is the divider that puts each tomato into tomato
container. If this doe not work correctly, then the accuracy of grading will be less than that
from computer program. Performance test of divider was conducted with 200 artificial
tomatoes. Results showed that divider put exactly every tomato to its corresponding
container as determined by the image processing program. In short, it has accuracy of 100%.
In order to be able to put into service economically, the machine has to have
substantial advantage in capacity compared to skilled labor. Table 2 gives the result of
performance tests and their corresponding computed theoretical capacity. Although several
machine components have the capacity to handle more than 5000 tomatoes/hour, effective
capacity of the machine was only 1212 tomatoes/hour or equal to the lowest capacity of its
component. This capacity is slightly above the capacity of skilled labor of 1000
tomatoes/hour. However, there are at least two advantages compared to manual method, i.e,
it can work continously in a very long time and it has consistent results. Furthermore, the
capacity of the machine can be increased, for example, by processing more than one tomato
at a time.
During the tests, it was also observed that 3.7% of processed tomatoes suffer bruise
damage due to rough handling during processing. Most of this damage occurred in feeder
unit and during transfer from metering device to conveyor and from conveyor to divider.
Further refinement in these parts are necessary to reduce the damages.
Although result of this test is very promising, further test should be conducted in
actual workplace at supplier office so that more valid comparison between machine and
human performance in tomato grading could be implemented with larger number of
tomatoes. In addition, it should be noted that it is possible to apply this machine to other
agricultural product with similar characteristics like manggo and citrus.

Based on the research research we can conclude as follows:
1. Automatic tomato grading machine based on visual evaluation has been succesfully
designed and fabricated.
2. Image processing and control programs were able to classify tomato with an accuracy of
3. The machine has an effective capacity of 1200 tomatoes/hour.

We would like to express our gratitude to Directorate of Higher Education, Ministry
of Education who provide the research grant, LPPM UNPAD for facilitating the
implementation of this research and our students; Jerry, Mutty, Taufik, Alan and Adronikus
who help to execute the research on daily basis.

Literature Cited
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Francis, F.J. 1980. Colour quality evaluation of horticultural crops. HortScience 15(1):14-
Halilintar. 2010. Perancangan Program Klasifikasi Kyuuri (Cucumis Sativus L.)
Menggunakan Pengolahan Citra Berdasarkan Berat dan Bentuk. Skripsi. Fakultas
Teknologi Industri Pertanian Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung.
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Table 1. Tomato grading criteria.

Parameter Grade A Grade B
Weight, g 120 - 180 <120 or > 180
Colour Turning Red or green

Table 2. Training performance of several ANN model.

No. Number of node in each layer Activation function Time required (seconds)
1. 25, 25 logsig, tansig 24
2. 15, 25 logsig, logsig 9
3. 15, 25 logsig, purelin 96
4. 15, 15 tansig, tansig 6

Tabel 3. The capacity of machine components.

Theoretical capacity Effective capacity
Machine component
(tomatoes/hour) (tomatoes/hour)
Feeder 4.014 1.749
Metering device 5.760 2.229
Conveyor 5.142 1.983
Divider 5.143 1.212
Image processing program 3.750 3.337


Figure 1. Reseach procedure.

Figure 2. Concept of tomato grading machine

Figure 3. Tomato grading machine.

Figure 4. Relationship between projected image area and weight of tomato

Figure 5. Relationship between calculated volume and weight of tomato.