In a nutshell: Advanced laser sorter is all it’s cracked up to be

Walnut processor now benefits from higher quality and increased output.

Since 1904, Andersen’s has been farming prunes, walnuts and cattle in the small town of Vina, located in the Northern Sacramento Valley. Four generations later, Andersen & Sons is still going strong.

Fourteen years ago, the company made an important decision to focus on the production of walnuts and became Andersen & Sons Shelling. The company offers conventional and organic walnuts in-shell and various kernel product types, shipping to more than 30 countries across the world including Japan, Australia, South Korea and Germany.

“Our mission is to establish and maintain relationships with our growers and buyers,” said Mike Andersen, vice president of sales. “We want to provide the best high-end products available. Over the last 13 years, the number of walnuts that have been processed increased from 750,000 pounds a year in 2002, to 54 million pounds in 2015.”

One of the major challenges Andersen & Sons faced in the past was its inability to identify defects using just laser sorters. Having outgrown its latest machine, it needed something that would meet the company’s specific demands.

“We have been using TOMRA laser sorters since 2005, but we recently purchased TOMRA’s Nimbus free-fall sorting machine with biometric signature identification (BSI)—a larger machine with advanced laser sorting technology,” stated Andersen. “The Nimbus BSI is able to process larger quantities of walnuts at the same time, meaning it has the ability to increase productivity and reduce any foreign material.”  Since purchasing the Nimbus BSI, the company has been able to satisfy a larger customer base due to the output being of a higher quality.

“Using TOMRA’s Nimbus BSI, we have gone from 2-3 shells per quality test to zero,” Anderson continues. In addition, the Nimbus BSI not only provides the ability to pack much more efficiently, it is extremely user friendly, he said. The benefit is Andersen & Sons was able to decrease the number of employees it takes to operate the machines.

Now that the company has both equipment with both lasers and cameras, it is confident it is picking up foreign material that used to slip through.

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