Key Technology introduces sorter for potato strips

Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, has introduced Veryx digital sorters equipped with their patented sort-to-grade (STG) software for both wet and frozen potato strips.

While Veryx targets all foreign material (FM) for removal, STG recognizes and categorizes every surface defect and the dimensional characteristics of every individual strip and makes each accept/reject decision based on how it will impact the aggregate ‘in the bag’ grade as defined by the processor.

By controlling the output for defect types that must be managed to a particular grade or “spec,” VERYX with STG accurately maintains the most complex final product specifications without operator intervention while increasing yields by one to three percent and enabling processors to eliminate mechanical length grading.

When the target grade permits a certain measure of minor defects to be present, a VERYX STG sorter will pass only the allowed amount of that defect type. By controlling the quality of the output to a defined grade, STG ensures the final product specification is consistently met. By accurately passing only the allowed defects, STG maximizes process yield. The intelligent STG software algorithms operate fully automatically, eliminating the need for manual adjustments and dramatically reducing the need for operator intervention.

STG can profile the length of each potato strip as well as any surface defects that may appear on the potato strip. Veryx with STG can be programmed to reject strips that are too short or too long for the grade while managing the distribution of strip lengths within multiple user-defined categories (“length bins”) between those two absolutes. If the grade allows for a given percentage of all strips to be between X and Y in length, another percentage to be between Y and Z in length and so on, STG will make accept/reject decisions to deliver exactly the required length profile.

All sorters make accept/reject decisions by comparing the defect and/or the dimensions of each object to predetermined criteria. Without STG, those decisions are made as a sequence of one-off decisions, regardless of final ‘in the bag’ quality results. Historically, an operator has had to adjust the sorter’s accept/reject thresholds subjectively in an effort to make grade given inevitable fluctuations in the quality of incoming product. This traditional approach to sorting can result in too many defects being rejected, creating significant yield loss and, when incoming defect loads spike, final grade specifications can be missed.


Veryx digital sorters for green beans

Key Technology introduces the VERYX family of digital sorters for green beans.

These chute- and belt-fed sorters identify and remove extraneous vegetable matter (EVM), including stalks, calyx, stems and several other types of unwanted vegetable materials often found with harvested green beans, as well as beans with blemishes and foreign material (FM) such as sticks, wood, glass and more. With optional three-way sorting, VERYX separates beans for rework while rejecting waste product and FM and passing good beans. Through improved sort accuracy, VERYX increases the removal of EVM, FM and defects to enhance product quality while virtually eliminating false rejects to maximize yield.

Ideal for many product varietals, VERYX can be tailored to sort whole or cut green beans, fresh or frozen, for fresh pack, frozen and canned product applications. These modular sorters are configured with the optimal sensor types, sensor positions, lighting, ejection system, product handling and software to meet the specific needs of each green bean processor. For multi-product lines that also process other vegetables such as cut corn, peas, carrots, beets and more, VERYX maximizes production flexibility with fast and accurate recipe-driven changeovers that ensure repeatable results.

With chute- and belt-fed sorters available in a variety of widths for low- to high-capacity processing lines, VERYX can sort green beans before or after blanching and after freezing prior to packaging, depending on the products being produced and the processor’s objectives. Thanks to inspection zones that are wider than other sorters with a similar footprint, VERYX enables processors to increase their throughputs by up to 15 percent while conserving floorspace. Depending on the VERYX model size, system capacities range from up to 5.5 metric tons (12,000 lb.) of green beans per hour for VERYX B70 to up to 19 metric tons (42,000 lb.) of green beans per hour for VERYX B210, the largest sorter in the VERYX product family. Capacities are dependent on incoming defect levels and actual varieties.

VERYX features next-generation 4-channel cameras and laser scanners that offer twice the resolution of previous generation sensors. Leveraging Key’s unique multi-sensor Pixel Fusion detection technology and object-based recognition with advanced shape sorting algorithms, VERYX significantly improves detection accuracy. An innovative mechanical architecture, specialized product handling systems and new ejection system accurately separate EVM, FM and defects while virtually eliminating false rejects.

Pixel Fusion is a patented detection technology that combines pixel-level input from multiple cameras and laser sensors to provide the clearest possible differentiation between good product, defects, FM and EVM using multispectral analysis. Object-based recognition and advanced shape sorting algorithms combine to recognize green beans with attached stalks, calyx and stems. Those beans can be separated for rework using the optimal ejection strategy for each item in the product stream.

VERYX sorters offer in-air inspection and the ability to view all sides of the product, achieving complete surface inspection with no blind spots for superior detection and removal of green beans with surface blemishes. All-sided inspection is sustained throughout the production cycle without requiring manual cleaning, because VERYX’s architecture strategically positions sensor windows, light sources and sensor backgrounds away from product splatter and contamination zones.

“At Key, we have a long history and deep expertise sorting green beans, so we’re in a great position to leverage our knowledge to improve the process, taking advantage of the newest detection technologies. We combine the most advanced green bean optical sorting with our mechanical grading and sizing systems and conveying solutions to help processors elevate their product quality and maximize yield,” said Marco Azzaretti, Advanced Inspection Systems Product Manager at Key Technology. “VERYX is an extremely versatile sorter. We customize each system to the exact needs the processor, considering the nuances of specific green bean varietals and regional differences in customer needs.”

As the world’s most intelligent sorter, VERYX includes smart system features such as auto-learning, self-adjustment algorithms, predictive diagnostics and smart alerts including the FMAlert feature. This enables VERYX to automatically adapt to normal changes in the product and environment, maintaining optimal performance. As result, VERYX can operate virtually unattended during normal production. Minimal sanitation requirements and simplified maintenance help reduce downtime and the customer’s total cost of ownership.

To further ease use and simplify operator training, Key developed an intuitive new UI designed with Human-Machine Interface experts. The VERYX UI provides different views to users of various levels depending on their needs. Recipe-driven operation ensures customers can count on consistent performance from their VERYX sorter day in, day out, including when running the same product across multiple sorters on different lines. For customers running multiple product types on the same system, the ergonomic VERYX UI enables the sorter to run a new product or grade at the touch of a button. Operator qualification requirements are reduced, allowing a minimally-skilled individual to become a proficient user of the technology in less than one hour.

VERYX features Key’s Information Analytics, a powerful set of data acquisition and connectivity capabilities that allow users to gather a broad range of product and operational data from the sorter. Data can be shared for off-line analysis or exchanged directly with a customer’s SCADA, Manufacturing Execution System or PLC network.

Key manufactures VERYX sorters in both the U.S. and Europe, and supports customers worldwide through its global sales and service network.

Frozen cranberry supplier maximizes quality and yield with digital sorter

Emblème Canneberge was established by three families of experienced growers last year to add value to the supply chain by offering frozen cranberries of superior quality. To maximize quality while maintaining the highest process yield, they needed the best digital sorter for their application.

They selected the Veryx sorter from Key Technology. Key tailors every Veryx system around the product characteristics and production objectives of each processor to detect and remove more foreign material (FM) and defects from the product stream with virtually no false rejects.

“We wanted to work with Key because they have world-class equipment and support it with great service. We chose VERYX because it’s Key’s most advanced sorter,” said Vincent Godin, President of Emblème. “All of our customers have very high standards in the specifications of the cranberries they want. Key helps us achieve those high standards.”

To sort their frozen cranberries at the high throughput they needed, Emblème selected the chute-fed VERYX C140, which features a 1400 mm-wide inspection area that sorts up to 13.6 metric tons (30,000 lb.) of frozen berries per hour. Key equipped Emblème’s sorter with front- and rear-mounted laser scanners that operate within the visible light and near-infrared wavelengths. VERYX performs object-based sorting, recognizing both the colors of objects and their structural properties and selecting optimal ejection strategies for each item in the product stream.

“With its front-and-rear sensors, our VERYX sorter looks at all sides of each object – no fruit that has a spot of rot gets by. This sorter removes leaves and twigs as well as other FM such as glass. By identifying colors, it catches white and yellow berries and fruit with color defects. The infrared detection enables the sorter to find and eject defective cranberries that are filled with ice, because this laser light scatters differently than it does on good fruit,” explained Godin. “VERYX gives us the confidence to seek GFSI certification, which we expect to have completed later this year.”

Emblème pulls cranberries from their freezer year round and runs them through a sizing and sorting line that is anchored by VERYX. First, a tote spiker breaks clusters and a bin dumper feeds an auger transport to a cluster breaker. Next, an Iso-Flo® size separation shaker from Key removes clusters and objects that are larger than 22 mm along with items such as small fruit, sticks and ice that are less than 10 mm in size. Berries and other objects between 10 and 22 mm in size continue on to a metal detector before a Key air cleaner removes lightweight material like leaves, prior to feeding the VERYX sorter.  The sorter removes the remaining FM and berries with defects, as defined by Emblème. The sorter’s ‘accept’ stream leads to a Key size grader with grading screens that separate the good fruit into three size grades.

“This combination of equipment reliably produces the high quality cranberries we are looking for,” noted Godin. “Our Key Technology sales rep, Jean François Sylvain from Chisholm Machinery Solutions, helped guide us toward the ideal equipment for our application. In addition to maximizing product quality and yield, it was also important to us that this line be easy to operate.”

Designed for extreme ease-of-use, VERYX includes intelligent features that enable it to adapt to normal changes in the product and environment. With auto-learning, self-adjustment algorithms, predictive system diagnostics, smart alarms and more, VERYX can operate without operator intervention during normal production. “VERYX is operating virtually unattended here,” said Godin.

Digital sorter for food makers

Key Technology has expanded its VERYX family of digital sorters with the addition of the new VERYX C70. This small chute-fed sorter is ideal for low- to mid-capacity production lines. With advanced inspection technology tailored to the exact needs of each application, VERYX sorters maximize the accuracy of defect and foreign material (FM) removal and/or product grading based on objects’ color, size, shape and/or structural properties. This extreme precision enables food processors to achieve their product quality specifications while virtually eliminating false rejects to increase yields.

The VERYX C70 is designed to sort line capacities ranging from less than one metric ton (2,220 lbs.) up to five metric tons (11,000 lbs.) of product per hour. Its 700-mm wide inspection zone is more than 10 percent wider than other sorters in its size category. This wider inspection zone enables VERYX to maintain a higher throughput within a similar footprint and better singulation of product to improve sorting accuracy.

Like the high capacity VERYX C140 sorter, VERYX C70 sorts free-flowing foods such as nuts, dried fruit and IQF products including fruit, vegetables, seafood and more. These two chute-fed sorters complement Key’s belt-fed VERYX sorters, which can be configured for wet and frozen potato strips and specialty potato products, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, potato chips and other snack foods, confections and more.

Chute-fed VERYX sorters feature Key’s patented Chycane chute, a unique concave-shaped slide that stabilizes product as it enters the inspection and ejection zones to produce a consistent trajectory that improves sorting accuracy. The systems include specialized infeed and collection shakers designed specifically for each application to maximize sorting performance. Extremely gentle handling minimizes product breakage and degradation, which is especially important for fragile, high-value products.

Featuring a highly customizable modular design that is scalable, Key tailors each VERYX system around the product characteristics and production objectives of each processor with the ideal sensor types, sensor positions, lighting, ejection system, product handling, software and more. VERYX can be easily upgraded in the field with additional or different sensors, as customer requirements evolve over time.

Digital sorters at foodpro

Key Technology will showcase the Veryx C140 digital sorters at the foodpro trade show in Sydney from 16-19 July, 2017.

Featuring an innovative system architecture and advanced inspection technology, the sorters maximize the detection and removal of foreign material (FM) and product defects based on objects’ color, size, shape and/or structural properties while minimising false rejects to enhance product quality and increase yields.

With belt-fed and chute-fed configurations available in various widths, the sorters can handle a wide range of products and production throughputs. Belt-fed systems sort frozen and fresh cut fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, potato chips and other snacks, confections, seafood, wet and frozen potato strips and more.

Chute-fed systems sort nuts, dried fruits, IQF products and other free-flowing foods. The inspection width of every VERYX sorter is 10-15 percent wider than comparatively sized sorters, which enables higher throughputs within a similar footprint and better singulation of product to improve sorting accuracy.

Featuring a highly customisable modular design, Key tailors each system around the product characteristics and production objectives of each processor with the ideal sensor types, sensor positions, lighting, ejection system, product handling, software and more. The system includes specialised infeed and collection shakers designed specifically for each application to maximise sorting performance. The sorters can be easily upgraded in the field with additional or different sensors, as customer requirements evolve over time.

For food processors that require all-sided surface inspection, Key can configure belt-fed VERYX with top-and-bottom mounted sensors and chute-fed VERYX with front-and-back mounted sensors to achieve a full view of each object in the product stream with no blind spots.

Belt-fed VERYX is the only sorter on the market that positions bottom sensors away from product splatter, which ensures lower sensor windows are not obstructed by contamination buildup over time to sustain 100 percent surface inspection throughout the production cycle.