High capacity sorting solution for delicate fruit

SORTEX K2A optical sorter

The Bühler Group, a global leader in optical sorting solutions, continues to strengthen its prominent position as a technology partner in fruit and vegetable processing, with the announcement that Curt Maberry Farm, USA, has chosen state-of-the-art SORTEX optical sorting technology, following extensive trials on the sorting and quality control of delicate raspberries and blueberries. Based in Lynden, Washington, Curt Maberry Farm produces a wide range of individual, quick-frozen fruit products and was looking to remove the foreign material and defects, such as mould in raspberries or stems in blueberries, colour blemishes or damaged items from its product, prior to packing.

The company was also looking to automate this part of the process, in order to free up pickers on the line, for deployment elsewhere in the facility. John Reneau, production manager at Curt Maberry Farm, turned to Bühler, who had installed its demonstration SORTEX E1D optical sorter at the plant, at the end of last year. Drawing on three powerful technologies; colour bichromatic cameras, Enhanced InGaAs and PROfile (shape) technology, the SORTEX E1D allowed Curt Maberry to detect and remove foreign materials, such as leaves, stems and mould, as well as over and undersized product. “A major problem for frozen raspberry processors is the fragility of the product, once frozen,” said Stephen Jacobs, Bühler’s fruit and vegetable global product manager. “Depending on the variety,” he points out, “fruit breakage levels can be as high as 10%, going through standard sorting equipment.” Bühler has tackled this challenge with the development of a special soft landing kit, which, together with Bühler’s existing technologies, enables frozen fruit processors to achieve clean acceptable product, with breakage levels of less than 3%.

Curt Maberry Farm processing line

After the successful trials of the SORTEX E1D in plant, Mr Reneau opted to invest in a SORTEX K2A, in order to meet the high throughputs necessary at Curt Maberry. The SORTEX K2A is also equipped with the new soft landing system, ensuring that Curt Maberry’s fragile raspberries and blueberries remain intact, throughout the sorting process. Operators at the plant have been fully trained on the SORTEX K2A’s easy to operate sensitivity controls; and the optical sorter which was delivered in June, was fully up and running – sorting raspberries – in time for the berry season. “The SORTEX K2A is doing an excellent job on quality sorting and we are very pleased with its performance,” said Mr Reneau, who confirmed that the soft landing kit was working well, ensuring that the high quality, accurately sorted fruit is captured consistently and gently, ready for final packing. SORTEX is a worldwide brand, recognised for intelligent premium technology and engineering quality in optical sorting, with over 25,000 sorters installed across the globe.  Bühler is committed to continuous innovation, to help extend the range of optical sorting applications for fruit and vegetable processing and to help its customers improve productivity and lower their processing costs. As processors look to adopt more advanced, cost-effective and energy efficient processes, the demand for Bühler’s leading optical sorting solutions will continue to grow.

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