Fragile-food sorter breaks barriers, its manufacturer claims

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Manufacturing

A new fragile-food sorting system can remove up to 100 per cent of
foreign material while losing less than 0.5 per cent yield, its
manufacturer claims.

Modernising sorting systems has increased recently due to industry pressures to improve food quality and safety. Sorters are used for food products like fruits, vegetables, nets, potato strips, snack foods, confectionary and seafood. They are used to detect and remove defects and foreign material from such products and attempt to improve the historical trade-off between product quality and yield.

Key Technology claims the Tegra sorter, designed specifically for fresh cut processors of tender leaf products such as baby leaf spinach, uses advanced optics and software to remove foreign material from the product stream. Accurate product positioning during analysis improves defect detection and foreign material removal while reducing the volume of good product being rejected.

Tri-chromatic Vis/IR cameras, analyze size and shape, combine data from both the visible and infrared spectrums while Key claims software recognizes and removes almost all protein-based animal matter such as insects and rodent parts, as well as cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass.

"Tegra for fresh-cut can achieve foreign material removal accuracy rates of up to 100 percent,"​ said a company spokesman.

Tegra's metal-mesh catenary C-Belt uses gravity and centrifugal force to accelerate, stabilize and launch product into the inspection zone. Predicting the in-air product trajectory improves identification or foreign material or defective product, which activates a precise air-jet ejector system, the manufacturer claims.

Key claims Tegra's unique infeed shaker uses a vibration separation technique to settle heavier foreign material to the bottom of the product stream. Smaller foreign material falls through screened openings prior to the optical sorting. Removing small foreign objects before optical sorting ensures only heavier unwanted objects enter the Tegra underneath the lightweight product, making the in-air detection and separation more efficient, claims the manufacturer.

"Yield loss is typically less than 0.5 percent with Tegra for fresh-cut,"​ a company spokesman said.

A system is available with a 60-inch wide platform to handle up to 8000 pounds (3.6 metric tons) of fresh-cut product an hour and a 30-inch wide platform for up to 4000 pounds (1.8 metric tons) of fresh-cut product an hour, claims the company.

Tegra comes equipped with software designed specifically for fresh-cut processors, reducing the skill level required for operation, claims Key.

The system uses industry-wide connectivity standards, so the system can be expanded or upgraded as the plant and technology advance.

Key has manufacturing plants in the US, the Netherlands and Australia.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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