Bin Dumpers for Grape Harvests and Commercial Viticulture

Bin Dumpers from Solus Group improve productivity at every step of the winemaking process. Even better, they also make these unique material handling tasks safer by removing ergonomic risks associated with manual lifting.

The benefits of Bin Dumpers start in the field. Mount a Forward Bin Dumper onto a fork truck during grape harvests. This hydraulic roll-over dumper provides faster, gentler, and safer grape dumping than standard gondolas, effortlessly carrying grapes from the vine to sorting belts.

After the crush, Multi-Tip hydraulic Bin Dumpers seamlessly transfer must into fermentation tanks. Staff will appreciate optional PET-G operator guards, which completely protect employees from splashes.

Finally, another Bin Dumper at the bottling stage can simplify the movement of finished alcoholic beverage products into bottling lines. From seed to sale, Bin Dumpers keep wine-, beer-, and spirit-production processes running smoothly. Call Solus Group at 314-696-0200 to find out more.

Improving Grape Harvests with Forward Bin Dumpers

The Forward Bin Dumper mounts to any standard lift truck or tractor fitted with forks. Once attached, it effortlessly grasps harvest bins of all types; cubic bins, pallet bins, or any other common high-capacity container with fork pockets.

This unit fits cleanly over existing forks, where it won't interfere with regular operation. Users can pick up standard pallets without removing the Forward Bin Dumper. When it's time to empty a harvest bin full of grapes, this fork attachment gently tilts 135 degrees forward. The lift truck operator can initiate and reverse the movement from the seat, and the unit provides a clear line of sight at all times.

Maintenance-free pivot bearings, stainless steel pivot pins, and a durable powder-coat finish ensure reliability, even after years of rough use in all kinds of weather. Learn more about Forward Bin Dumpers and the rest of the Bin Dumper product line below.

Protecting Grapes from Harvest to Crush

Grapes are the most valuable fruit crops in the United States, reports the National Association of American Wineries. Every grape has a real dollar value, so the fewer losses on the way from the field to the crush facility, the better. Value will differ depending on varietal, American Viticultural Area, and other factors, of course, but a few statistics can give us a broad view of the contemporary wine grape's value:

  • The average price of all grape varieties in California in 2016 was $762.84 per ton.
  • A ton of grapes can produce more than two barrels of wine, enough for about 720 bottles.
  • Each bottle requires anywhere between 600 and 800 grapes, depending on the size of the fruit. We'll take the midpoint of 700 grapes for our calculation.
  • Seven hundred grapes times 720 bottles yields 504,000 individual grapes per ton.
  • Dividing the total value per ton by the number of berries suggests that each grape in the field is worth around $0.0015. That might not sound like much on its own, but multiply it by 100 and you're losing 15 cents. Multiply it by 1,000, and that's $1.50 in loss per ton of harvest. Multiply it by the entire harvest and the losses grow quite significant.

Post-harvest physiologists have placed total produce loss as high as 33 percent globally, attributable in part to mechanical damage at harvest or during immediate post-harvest handling. In the example above, then, a 33 percent loss would lead to diminished profits of $249.48 — per ton.

California winemakers crushed more than 4 million tons of grapes in 2016. At scale, losses in the field are a serious drag on grape growers' profitability.

Forward Bin Dumpers mounted on a tractor's forks reduce mechanical damage by cutting down on transfers, or "touches," of the fruit. Harvest workers can pack directly into cubic bins and send the tractor back to the sorting table. There, a single gentle dumping moves transfers berries to sorting tables in a quick, gentle, and safe motion.

By protecting the berry, growers derive more value from each acre.

What makes Solus Group Bin Dumpers and pallet bins superior to grape gondolas? Traditional grape-harvesting gondolas usually have capacities measured in the tons, meaning the grapes at the bottom are subjected to excess weight. Additionally, the time it takes to fill gondolas can reduce freshness with the associated loss of flavor.

In the second edition of A.J. Winkler's classic guide to commercial winemaking, General Viticulture, the influential oenologist points out the problems associated with gondolas. "It must be remembered that wine grapes will not stand rough handling and that the time from the vine to the crusher must be short," Winkler writes. "The very large gondola is unsatisfactory in both respects, and ways must be found to eliminate it…"

Forward Bin Dumpers and large-scale harvest bins offer an ideal solution. They move loaded harvest bins quickly to the crusher to keep grapes as fresh as possible, and the gentle forward-dumping motion reduces breakage along the way.

Call Solus Group at 314-696-0200 to discuss how Bin Dumpers can help with grape harvests and every following step of fine winemaking.

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