Improvement in sensitivity of an inductive oil palm fruit sensor

Sensors (Basel). 2014 Feb 3;14(2):2431-48. doi: 10.3390/s140202431.


Among palm oil millers, the ripeness of oil palm Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) is determined through visual inspection. To increase the productivity of the millers, many researchers have proposed with a new detection method to replace the conventional one. The sensitivity of such a sensor plays a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of the method. In our preliminary study a novel oil palm fruit sensor to detect the maturity of oil palm fruit bunches is proposed. The design of the proposed air coil sensor based on an inductive sensor is further investigated to improve its sensitivity. This paper investigates the results pertaining to the effects of the air coil structure of an oil palm fruit sensor, taking consideration of the used copper wire diameter ranging from 0.10 mm to 0.18 mm with 60 turns. The flat-type shape of air coil was used on twenty samples of fruitlets from two categories, namely ripe and unripe. Samples are tested with frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 120 MHz. The sensitivity of the sensor between air to fruitlet samples increases as the coil diameter increases. As for the sensitivity differences between ripe and unripe samples, the 5 mm air coil length with the 0.12 mm coil diameter provides the highest percentage difference between samples and it is amongst the highest deviation value between samples. The result from this study is important to improve the sensitivity of the inductive oil palm fruit sensor mainly with regards to the design of the air coil structure. The efficiency of the sensor to determine the maturity of the oil palm FFB and the ripening process of the fruitlet could further be enhanced.