In 1976 Wayne Earl, a graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Industrial Engineering and working for Accurex, was asked to join Icore to develop the first color sorter to be mounted on a Johnson Farm Machinery Tomato Harvester. After several years of perfecting the design Earl bought the rights to the tomato sorter technology from Icore.
Earl started Woodside Electronics (WECO) in 1982 in Mountain View, CA and within a few years moved the company to Woodland, CA to be closer to Johnson Farm Machinery. A turning point happened in 1990 when the first Johnson Tomato Harvesters were sent to Spain with WECO’s sorter, the Golden Streak. Proving to be a success, it didn’t take long for WECO’s sorters to be mounted on hundreds of harvesters greatly reducing hand labor.
Wanting to broaden his commodity to include other fruits/nuts, in 1999 Earl developed a Hi-Res Optical Sorting Technology and deployed it for use in the Walnut Huller industry. This technology was successful in removing adhering hull and black walnuts along with foreign material. Taking it a step further, in 2003 Xres Camera Technology was developed for in-shell walnut sorting. Today WECO is the leader in supplying sorting and automation equipment to walnut huller/dehydrators, including Webster Walnut of Australia.
In 2004 Don Douglas purchased WECO from Mr. Earl and his first project in advancing the product lines was to develop a new tomato sorter to replace the Golden Streak. The TomatoTek was introduced and able to provide the same effectiveness as the Golden Streak while adding the special features of: RFID, GPS, Wireless Remote Control, Driver’s Console and Data Logging & Transmission. Additionally, the new sorter was installed 4 inches further away from the flow of the product which resulted in significantly less cleaning.
In 2005, the first BerryTek sorters using the Xres technology camera system was developed to sort out green and red berries for blueberry packers. A year later, in 2006 WECO developed the world’s first two-view/soft sorter for the blueberry industry. This new sorter could analyze 100% more area of the fruit and vastly improved pack-out quality with increased throughput. With the ever-changing and improvement of technology, it didn’t take WECO long to add the Impulse Soft sorter to its already successful line of machinery. The Impulse was built with the same durability that all WECO sorters are known for but manufactured with an FDA approved resin that is anti-microbial. Each of the dynamic sensors has been individually manufactured with this anti-microbe resin and makes the soft sorter the safest of its kind in the industry.
In 2010, WECO started testing and development of the WineGrapeTek to help wineries remove material other than grapes (MOG) after the de-stemming process. This reduced or eliminated the need for manual hand labor and increased throughput. The system is also designed to be easy to understand and operate, employing intuitive controls and a touch-screen interface refined over the last thirty years.
WECO was proud to celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2012. We have the best team of engineers and dedicated technicians constantly making improvements on our technology.
In 2014 WECO introduced the ProcessTek line for the blueberry process industry and this past year WECO introduced the VibeTek line sorters for frozen blueberries and Chromax Camera Technology to the blueberry and tomato divisions.