The Innovation of Portable Harvester
Harvesting activity in oil palm plantation including cutting ripe fruit bunches from trees to transportation to mills which includes cutting ripe fruit bunches, extracting loose fruit, cutting fronds, transporting to the colection place and then to palm oil mills. The process also can directly affect the quantity and quality of oil produced. So that in the oil palm harvesting process, there are certain criteria that must be considered. One of the criteria is the level of ripeness. The fruit bunches has become ripe, when it has orange color and if the oil content in the fruit is full or maximal, the fruit will fall that called “membrondol” in bahasa.
Apart from the level of fruit ripeness, the important thing in the Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) harvesting process is the tool or harvester. Traditional harvester but still widely used today are dodos and egrek. Dodos is a harvester is used for oil palm trees less than 7 years old and the tool has width of 10-72.5 cm and iron pipe handles or wooden sticks. Meanwhile, Egrek is a harvester is used for oil palm trees that are more than 7 years old with a tool connected from aluminum pipe or bamboo.
Both of these harvesters have evolved from manual using human power to mechanical. The use of mechanical dodos and egrek is widely used by plantation companies which have a very large area so that it is more efficient and able to saves the amount of harvesters labour.
Even though it has evolved, these harvesters are considered have several weaknesses such as the blade is not yet effective and efficient because its shape and sharpness, the cutting machine has a short rod, cannot be used for a long time because it will cause fatigue, and the tools is too heavy so it can affects the cutting speed.
Therefore, Andreas Reky and the team are supported by a palm oil research fund managed by BPDPKS to carry out innovative research to develop portable harvester for harvest FFB, which are expected able to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of harvesting productivity and be more comfortable to use by operator. This inovation harvester was presented at the webinar of Pekan Riset Sawit.
The portable harvester has a total weight of 8 kg consisting of 4 parts, namely a gearbox, four-stroke engine, has type of knife with a sharp tip and a blade width of 2 cm on the cutting side of the knife, and telescopic rod has length of 3-4 cm which can be used for trees that are 5 years old. For trees that have a height of 10 meters, the position of the gearbox must be changed to the bottom position instead of above because it can cause the telescopic rod to warp.
In addition, the portable harvester also has a displacement specification of 25.4 ccs, output power of 0.95 kW/bhp, a stroke rate of 2.6 strokes/sec, a sound pressure level of 90 dB, and an average vibration value of 20 m/s. The advantages of this harvesters are a wider harvesting range with a maximum height of 4 meters of palm trees, a machine that is quite easy to use and fuel-efficient (1.5 – 2.5 liters for 8 hours of use), equipped with a 4 stroke-engine using fuel as a energy, so it is not noisy and has a small vibration, so can achieving for maximum performance.
This harvester has been tested at the Cipta Prima Sejahtera Service Cooperative located in Banjarmasin by two operators. Before and after the test, these operators were checked for health to measure their heart rate and oxygen levels. The test results of using this portable harvester did not cause tremors and there was no matters in the health conditions of these two operators both before and after the test. It’s means that the use of this harvester is relatively safe for operator’s health.
It is expected, that the amount of research that results in product or technology innovation that can be directly applied by palm oil stakeholders, such as this portable harvester, can support the palm oil industry towards more efficient, competitive, and sustainable.
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