Nut processing facility improves yield using new sorter

Friday, 20 August, 2021 | Supplied by: Key Technology Australia Pty Ltd

US food manufacturer, Caro Nut Company, processes and packages a variety of dry roasted, oil roasted or pasteurised raw snacking nuts, nut butters and ingredients for major brands, private label customers and industrial food processors.

Caro Nut recently selected Key Technology’s VERYX BioPrint sorter for its nut butter line. The new technology is designed to remove more shells, foreign material (FM) and product defects, all while increasing yield.

Gerard Lorenzano, Plant Manager at Caro Nut said: “Before we replaced our old sorter, we had to sacrifice a lot of good nut meat in order to get the shells out. It took a lot of time and effort to re-sort the rejects and recover yield.

“All that changed with our new sorter. VERYX BioPrint removes exactly what we want and nothing more... This powerful technology has improved our product quality at the same time it’s increased our yield by more than one metric ton of product a day.”

Combining hyperspectral imaging with colour cameras, the sorter is designed to inspect across a range of wavelengths within the near infrared (NIR) spectrum as well as visible light to analyse a richer data set about the materials it’s sorting. Data from the hyperspectral sensors and colour cameras is fused at the pixel level using Key’s Pixel Fusion technology, producing a unique ‘signature’ for each material substance to detect the chemometric and biologic properties of objects. The nut sorter finds and removes a wide variety of FM and even hard-to-detect defects, such as nuts with insect damage, rot and mould, without false rejects, regardless of incoming defect loads, while also shape sorting and colour grading.

“Detecting shells is difficult for traditional laser/camera sorters because, when shells are the same colour as good nut meat, it can trick the sensors. VERYX BioPrint uses hyperspectral technology to look at the moisture content of objects. It sees low moisture in shells and kicks them out,” explained Sonny Chhina, Maintenance Supervisor at Caro Nut. “This sorter is so effective, we’ve eliminated manual inspection on the line and moved that person to elsewhere in our plant.”

“We’re able to handle heavier loads of incoming shells and defects with this hyperspectral sorter,” Chhina added. “We start by selecting the product recipe from the sorter’s memory. If the incoming load is very heavy, we may need to adjust the sensitivity of the settings a little, but that’s easy to do with just a couple of taps on the touchscreen. Then we’re good to go.”

Caro Nut’s VERYX BioPrint C140 features front- and rear-mounted hyperspectral sensors and high-resolution colour cameras. It can sort up to eight metric tons of cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts and other nuts per hour.

“We’ve connected our VERYX BioPrint to our plant network, which is a great asset for us,” Chhina noted. “If we reach out to Key for support, they’re able to jump on and work with the sorter remotely to help us maintain peak performance.

“We’re tapping into VERYX’s data collection capability as well. For example, our sorter is programmed to measure the attributes of the incoming product and its reject stream. We use that information to be sure we’re ejecting exactly what we want to remove. We also give that data to our source managers so they can negotiate supplier payments based on incoming product quality.”

Online: www.key.net
Phone: 03 8710 8200
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