Food industry – dry products

13 September, 2018

The role of optical sorters in food industry

The food industry has significantly higher requirements on the equipment and machines used in the processing of products. Here, in addition to efficiency and reliability, which are obligatory on most production lines, machines must be adapted to contact with food. Therefore, the devices can be built only from specific materials, they have to be regularly cleaned and have a suitable construction, guaranteeing, for example, tightness.

Food processing as well as other industries has been significantly automated. An automated production line can chop, cut, cook products. Similarly, with the sorting of products – today it’s necessary to consider whether it’s profitable to employ additional people to perform this work manually. Modern optical sorters can do it faster and with better precision. These devices are particularly useful when sorting loose products, such as cereals, nuts or coffee beans. Why? While the sorting of larger products can be done manually, manual selection of for example wheat grains is not possible. The latest technologies of optical sorting, such as AVISCAN, allow not only to increase efficiency, but also quality in areas where it has not been possible so far.

Why loose products need sorting?

Sorting dry loose products is important for several reasons. Firstly, input material such as cereals may contain various types of foreign materials like stones or sticks which, by passing with the product to further processing stages, may eventually reach the final consumer. Another issue is that contaminants, if found in unsuitable equipment, can cause damage and consequently costly downtime. Optical sorters provide nearly 100% rejection efficiency of foreign material. Another important issue when sorting food products is the rejection of objects that are not suitable for sale, (especially needed when the product reaches the consumer in an unchanged form, e.g. beans, nuts). Thanks to the optical sorting we can find only pretty and fresh products on the shop shelves. In the same way in a package of nuts almost all of them are pretty and regular.

How is the sorting of loose product going?

A large number of different sorting machines are used in the food industry. From huge constructions for sorting apples, through devices with belt conveyor, to chute-fed optical sorters. The last ones are usually used for sorting dry loose products. The chute is great for working with small and light products. Although a conveyor belt could be used instead, it would take up necessary space, and the cost of such a solution would be higher. The chute allows inspection with two cameras (from two sides), which is required when working with some products. The conveyor belt will be a better solution if you want to inspect products earlier, even on the belt, to extend the time to accept/reject decisions made.

Various technologies implemented in optical sorters can increase accuracy and efficiency. For example, AVISCAN optical sorters has been equipped with patented technology, which allow obtaining a uniform speed of products with different densities, thanks to which the rejecting of products is more precise and, consequently, more correct objects are saving. It is worth mentioning, operator can set the level of selection, adequate to the application.

What kind of food can be sorted?

The category of dry loose products is quite extensive, but most products are sorted in the same way. This category includes various types of cereals, such as wheat, rye, barley, millet, as well as maize, rice and seeds. Also, processed food sometimes requires additional selection. Examples include products such as dried fruit and vegetables.

Who should be interested in buying an optical sorter?

Optical sorters should be of interest to both food suppliers and producers, but also to… farmers. Why farmers? Optical sorters can also be used to select seeds before sowing, as well as to sort the harvested products in order to improve the quality of the harvest and get a higher purchase price.

What are the benefits of using optical sorters?

Automation of the sorting process brings many benefits, which indirectly have a single purpose – increasing the profitability of production and profit. Savings can be made in many fields. The first aspect is the lower maintenance cost of the production line due to the lower number of employees.  This point can also be considered in a different way. Optical sorters at a similar cost level allow to achieve much greater efficiency, so that production plants can easily increase their processing capacity.

Another benefit, already mentioned, is the improvement of the goods quality. Conscious consumers expect that all raisins in the package will be pretty and fresh, and the nuts will not be cracked. Food producers should strive for the highest quality products, as these can be sold at a higher price.

Another issue is the increase in employee safety. Automated production means that people don’t have to perform tasks that are dangerous for them. Thanks to the use of optical sorters, employees don’t have to stand by the moving conveyor belts, thus reducing the probability of injury during work.

All food producers are responsible for the safety of their products and have to ensure that they aren’t harmful to consumers. Companies, using precision devices for food sorting, such as AVISCAN, not only provide the highest product quality, but also reduce losses and extend the product shelf life. In this case, the optical sorter is Not an Expense, It’s an Investment.

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