Bühler is standing out from the competition by using InGaAs (indium-gallium-arsenide) technology in its Sortex sorters, which is similar to infrared detectors used in night vision goggles.
The InGaAs layer produces an electron pattern corresponding to a viewed image to detect foreign material in food products.
IQF peas and carrots
Westfro frozen vegetable producer has just bought two Bühler Sortex K2A optical sorters, using this technology at its processing plant in Staden, Belgium.
The machines sort 24 tonnes per hour of individually quick frozen (IQF) peas and carrots and will remove foreign material, misshaped or discoloured vegetables, leaves, pods or bugs.
Stephen Jacobs, global product manager, fruit and vegetables, Bühler, told FoodProductionDaily, its competitors use laser technology but it does not use that.
"We use InGaAs, which is used in night vision goggles, to detect foreign objects in food,” he said.
“The technology has been around for a long time and we recently enhanced it to use it as a detection mechanism across a broader range of wavelengths.
“We are constantly developing more options within our product ranges. We just introduced a gentler handling system for fragile food such as long green beans and raspberries on our K sorters.”
Dirk Verhelle, owner and managing director of Westfro, said the firm has been working with Bühler for some time. It already owns two Sortex sorters and needed more for a new production line as part of an extension at its factory.
The company has an annual production capacity of 95,000 tonnes and tries to minimise the time between harvest and processing, to preserve the level of vitamins, minerals and fibres in its vegetable products.
“We chose Bühler to provide us with the specialist sorting equipment we needed at our new site, following many years of using the Sortex technology,” said Verhelle.
“The reliability and efficiency of the machines, combined with the local support provided by its customer care team, meant we wanted to continue the relationship as our business expands.”