Key Technology introduces hyperspectral sorter

Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, introduces the first VERYX BioPrint digital sorter. As the world’s only sorter that can combine near infrared (NIR) hyperspectral detection with color cameras, VERYX BioPrint analyzes a richer set of data about the materials it is sorting to improve detection performance and maximize process yield. Key’s VERYX BioPrint C140 sorter for nuts removes shells, foreign material (FM) and product defects as well as shape sorts and color grades to maximise product quality while virtually eliminating false rejects.

Sorting walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews and other nuts, VERYX BioPrint removes shells, rocks, sticks, glass, plastics, moisture-related defects, insect and other surface damage, rot, mold and more while colour grading and shape sorting to meet even the most stringent product quality specifications.

VERYX BioPrint C140 can be equipped with front- and rear-mounted hyperspectral imaging sensors for all-sided inspection of each object in the product stream. It can be configured with  color cameras and Key’s new Bio Fusion® detection technology, which fuses information from both sensor types to uniquely identify and remove a wide range of foreign materials and defects from the product stream.

Hyperspectral imaging utilises many more wavelengths of information than other NIR inspection systems to detect the chemometric and biological properties of objects. Multi-channel, high-resolution colour cameras facilitate precise colour grading and shape sorting. Bio Fusion combines pixel-level data from the hyperspectral sensors and colour cameras to produce a unique ‘signature’ associated with each material substance that passes through the sorter. This enables VERYX to identify and remove the most difficult-to-detect FM and defects, without the yield loss generated by inadvertently directing good product to the reject stream, even when defect loads are very high.

“Our new proprietary BioPrint hyperspectral imaging system gives us superior flexibility to tailor optimal sort solutions for each customer application,” said Marco Azzaretti, Director of Marketing at Key. “Nut customers are already using VERYX BioPrint in their operations and have proven its success – they’re experiencing outstanding product quality and ease of use.”

The accuracy of the BioPrint detection system is complemented by VERYX’s high-resolution ejection system, which features minimal spacing between air nozzles to better target objects identified for removal without inadvertently sorting out good product. Intelligent software manages the air nozzles’ actuation strategy to suit the objects’ size, shape and weight. The combined precision of VERYX’s detection and ejection systems results in the most complete removal of shell and FM with the highest good product yield.

Sorting up to 8 metric tons of product per hour, VERYX BioPrint C140 is as a versatile solution for sorting nuts from pre-selection to final grading. It works perfectly as a stand-alone sorter, either in line or batch-fed, and in a cascading line of multiple sorters, depending on the needs of the processor.

“VERYX is a modular and scalable platform that is highly configurable. Our first VERYX BioPrint is designed specifically to sort nuts” noted Azzaretti. “Going forward, we plan to develop VERYX BioPrint sorters for other applications where chemometric detection offers unique performance and customer value. The next frontier of optical sorting is improving the identification of internal defects and other conditions that are not discernible by inspecting the surface of objects. Hyperspectral imaging also has tremendous potential to select product on the basis of its taste properties. For example, VERYX BioPrint C140 can help processors of Spanish-style almonds detect individual so-called ‘bitter almonds.’

VERYX features Key’s Information Analytics software, which allows users to collect, analyze and access big data off-line and across their enterprise via an OPCUA-compliant infrastructure. “Nut customers with installed VERYX systems are optimising their operations by leveraging Information Analytics. They’re tracking the volume and size of broken pieces and shell coming into the sorter to make smarter and quicker decisions to adjust their crackers and other upstream and downstream equipment to improve both product quality and yield,” explained Azzaretti.

Like all VERYX sorters, VERYX BioPrint is designed for ease-of-use with smart features that enable it to adapt to normal changes in the product and environment without operator intervention. Operator qualification requirements are dramatically reduced, allowing a minimally skilled operator to become a proficient user of the technology in less than one hour.


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