Athena is the new continuous olive harvester solution designed by Andreoli Engineering and imported into Australia by A&A Holdings P/L for intensive and super-intensive olive plantations. Andreoli has a long reliable history already in Australia for their trailed and self propelled Atom sprayers.
The Athena Olive harvester machine continuously harvests along the side of the row shaking the vegetation by means of its patented harvesting heads. The operator can adjust the heads hydraulically by a joystick to cater to the shape of the tree. A series of catching panels, guides the picked olives onto a stainless steel conveyor. Leaves and branches are removed by integrated cleaners as they travel through the conveyor. The cleaned crop can then be discharged into either bins on an attached rear forklift or into a trailer towed by the Athena.
One of Athena's main benefits is it allows an excellent proven harvesting efficiency of up to 95% collection of olives and with a working speed of more than 1.5 km/h, working on olive trees of up to 5 m in height. Athena can work as a single unit harvester, but it is also available in a mirror variant that can be used to harvest in parallel the opposite side of the tree. The use of two mirror machines increases the productivity and is suggested for larger orchards.
Athena is powered by an FPT N45 4 cylinder 4500 cc 93 kw Diesel engine the type used commonly in New Holland tractors. From field experience it has been shown that the Olive harvesting can be performed efficiently at just 1600 rpm with a low fuel consumption of about 10 litres/hour. The powerful heavy duty hydrostatic transmission of the machine gives great traction and allows the use of the machine on steep slopes and boggy ground. Due to its wide rubber tracks, Athena's ground pressure is less then 0,4 kg/square centimetre. Making it possible for the machine to operate in extremely wet conditions and thus avoiding compaction of the soil along the rows, so in extreme weather rain conditions the machine is able to harvest when other machines would sink and stop, so always enabling harvest at the exact Olive maturity. The high working speed and the integrity of the collected olives allows for a reduction of the harvesting costs and big improvement of the olive oil quality.
A large wide and comfortable air conditioned cabin protects two operators: the driver and a second operator who controls the position of the harvesting heads. The cab is also pressurised and filtered against dust. The Olive harvesting operator sits at an optimal position for the best visibility to the tree and controls the picking heads using a joystick. A cruise control function allows the driver to keep a constant working speed which can be saved and recalled at the beginning of each row simply by buttons which are integrated into the joystick. The machine has a maximum speed of 7 km/h. Steering and forwards speed is controlled by the joystick and is very easy, allowing for smooth manoeuvres even in very narrow spaces. The second operator sits in a higher position in order to be able to see the complete vegetation surface and adjust the position of the harvesting tools. The Olive picking operator also controls the vibration frequency, which is adjustable according to the variety and to the picking time during the season. An automatic control system keeps a constant harvesting head frequency setting, no matter what the Diesel engine RPM is. The machine is provided with a powerful LED lighting system for night work. A reversing camera comes as standard for keeping an eye for what's happening at the back of the machine.
Athena is a versatile harvester and can be used in both intensive and super-intensive orchards where the configuration of the trees is hedge type, with the main branches running in the direction of the row and the fruitful small flexible branches growing in the direction of the row spacing. The Athena can handle trees up to 5 meters with the tree skirt starting as low as 0.9 m. In intensive plantations (400-800 trees/ha) with a row spacing of 5-7 meters the machine has shown its best efficiency achieving more than a 95% crop harvest, with a harvesting speed of up to 2 km/h. Usually the total tree area harvested is 1 hectare every two working hours using a single machine and 1 hectare every working hour with two opposing machines. The harvesting speed depends as well on the vegetation shape uniformity and on the pruning system adopted. When using a single machine on young trees where the Olive trees are not yet fully developed a collecting trailer is used to recover the few olives falling onto the opposite side of the tree. The opposing trailer has to be towed by a tractor.
Athena is designed to rapidly shift from harvesting to transport configuration mode and vice versa to quickly speed up the loading and transport of the machine. The vertical frame holding the harvesting heads can be hydraulically rotated and the horizontal conveyor can be folded in a few seconds to reach the overall dimensions suitable for transport, 2.50 meters of total width and 3.20 meters in height.
For more information contact A&A Holdings P/L or check the website link above.