Forbio: Robotic Plant Propagation

This equipment automatically picks plantlets from agar-gel trays, sections them using machine vision to identify the right cutting points, and replants the sections in new trays.

Client: Forbio

Product: Robotic Plant Propagation Machines

Invetech was approached to refine the design, and manufacture and commission, automatic machines that would automatically harvest, cut and replant small plantlets of various species suitable for clonal micro-propagation.

The self-contained machine capable of processing 12 explants per minute comprised the following:

  • Dual camera stereo imagery and parallel processing of images for identification of plant nodes for automatic cutting
  • 9 independently controlled linear and two rotary axes with stepper motor actuation
  • 2 tray-dispensing magazines
  • 3 independent ‘smart location’ control conveyors
  • 3 independent harvesting, cutting and planting end effectors
  • Ultrasonic and heat augmented tool sterility
  • Air blast and vacuum waste removal
  • Rugged construction for operation in a harsh nursery environment

The robotic tissue culture machines increased production rate by 500% for equivalent labor utilizations, eliminated difficult, highly skilled and labor-intensive operations and reduced contamination.

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