Design, construction, and testing of a manual pineapple slicing machine for small scale fruit processors in Uganda
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Pineapple is an important horticultural crop commonly grown in many tropical countries such as Uganda as a source of income. In a good production season, pineapples are preserved for off-season consumption by drying. Before drying, pineapples are prepared by washing, peeling, and then slicing. Small-scale pineapple processors use hand knives for slicing pineapples which make them produce uneven slices due to unavoidable human error. Uneven slices lead to non-uniform drying of pineapples, which affects the overall colour of the product since thin slices dry faster than thick slices hence compromising the quality of the product. This project undertook to fabricate a manually operated pineapple slicing machine that can handle different varieties of pineapple and is capable of producing slices of different shapes, unlike the existing pineapple slicers which are variety specific and produce slices of a specific shape. The designed machine produce slices of uniform thickness by using three different tools which are used interchangeably depending on the desired shape of slices. The machine was tested and found that the average time to slice one pineapple was 29.4 seconds. The slicing efficiency of the machine ranged between 78.16% and 80.31%. The throughput capacity of the machine ranged between 70.8 kg/hr and 73.5 kg/hr. According to the obtained results, it is evident that the fabricated pineapple slicer is more efficient compared to using a hand knife.