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Laser sorter delivers fast changeover and consistent quality

When Morada Nut Company was selecting equipment for its new state-of-the-art walnut shelling plant, it searched for a digital sorter that would produce high quality product on a consistent basis. The company chose Key Technology’s Taurys laser sorter not only to remove foreign material (FM) and defects from the product, but also to color sort for grading.

“Before we chose Taurys, we tried virtually every sorter on the market. We wanted to identify the tool that would serve us best in getting our product into high-end markets like Japan, Korea and Germany,” said Scott Brown, production manager at Morada.

Taurys is a high-performance, chute-fed laser sorter. It can be configured with a wide range of detection wavelengths to sort on the color and/or structural properties of a wide variety of nuts as well as dried fruit, frozen fruits and vegetables, fresh cut produce, confections, coffee, and snack foods. Its sort engine, architecture and ejection manifold lasers handle higher incoming defect loads, increase detection resolution, and improve the accuracy of defect and FM removal and color sorting. Taurys’ ability to improve sorting efficiencies and reduce false rejects helps food processors improve product quality while maximizing yields.

Using a 1200-mm (47-inch) wide inspection zone, it sorts up to 4.5 metric tons (10,000 lbs.) of walnuts per hour. According to Brown, Taurys is a workhorse. “It has a very high success rate and very low false rejects sorting 8,000 lbs. an hour.”

Morada typically runs a standard double pass through the sorter. The first pass removes shells and other FM as well as defects such as shriveled kernels. The second pass is fine-tuned to color sort for grading purposes.

Taurys’ settings can be stored and retrieved for fast changeovers. The icon-based graphical user interface (GUI) is easy to learn and use, which reduces training and simplifies operations. The GUI can reside locally and can be accessed remotely via Taurys’ OPC-compliant infrastructure. This enhances flexibility in the operating environment and eases access for remote factory troubleshooting and application assistance.

“It’s very effective at eliminating even the smallest membrane without producing too many false rejects. Part of that success is a result of the sorter’s ease of use,” said Brown.