feature image

Imaging Technology in Pecan Shelling

The pecan industry is attempting to move into the 21st century when it comes to shelling technology and processes. 


Imaging technology is not new in the pecan industry, global leaders such as Weco a global manufacturer of food product sorting and conditioning systems has developed imaging technologies for our industry as well as moisture monitoring. Growers around the globe have implemented Weco PecanTEK for imaging and sorting of in-shell pecans to reduce manual labor, improve quality, increase throughput, and increase food safety. But the University of Georgia is hoping to increase use of imaging technology in the pecan industry. 


UGA’s College of Engineering has been working in conjunction with other groups to improve pecan shelling. One of the ways they intend to do that is through imaging technology. The college recently held a meeting to update industry on progress and get feedback from growers/shellers on issues they are dealing with in the field. 


While the engineering students are taking a deep dive into the entire process of removing the shell from pecan kernels, one area that I found to be quite interesting was the imaging portion of the process. The UGA team has written code that will analyze video/images of pecans continuously throughout the cracking and shelling process in order to adjust machinery to optimize the pecan cracking and shelling process. 


While the process is still rudimentary in their lab the application of their technology in the field/plant is highly anticipated. The students have identified and categorized 4 different types of cracks in a pecan and can now image and process the information with the purpose of implementing that information in what they are calling industry 4.0 technologies. Which is basically a way of referencing a group of technologies such as sensors, actuators, databases, and the like where the machines will utilize the data and adjust in realtime in order to optimize the pecan cracking and shelling process to deliver the best results for output. 


The UGA team says they intend to develop the code and technologies open source for companies to use and build upon. All of the data is or will be made available to the public as it has been funded by congress and issued through the USDA. If you have question or input for the UGA team be sure to reach out and share your experience.