Development of a manual pineapple peeling, slicing, and coring 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 makes them produce uneven slices due to unavoidable human error. Uneven slices lead to non-uniform drying of pineapples, which affects the overall color of the product since thin slices dry faster than thick slices hence compromising the quality of the product. This project undertook to develop a manually operated pineapple peeling, slicing, and coring machine that can handle different varieties of pineapple and is capable of producing slices of uniform circular shapes. A performance test of the machine was carried out using pineapples of smooth Cayenne variety. It was tested for its ability to peel pineapples, slice pineapples to uniform thickness, and remove the central core. The slicing efficiency and throughput capacity of the pineapple slicer were also evaluated. The average time to peel, slice, and core one pineapple was 37 seconds. The slicing efficiency of the machine ranged between 71.5% and 80.0%, and the average slicing efficiency of the machine was 74.7%. The throughput capacity of the machine ranged between 74.7 kg/hr and 95.2 kg/hr, the average throughput capacity of the machine was 83.5 kg/hr. According to the obtained results, it is evident that the fabricated pineapple slicer is more efficient compared to using a hand knife thus will increase production for the small pineapple processors.