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‘Hyperspectral imaging & intelligent software and algorithms – Key trends for digital sorters’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Morada Nut Company, Taurys digital sorter
Morada Nut Company has partnered with Key Technology to install its Taurys laser sorter, to remove foreign material (FM) and defects at its walnut shelling plant.

The machine has a 1200-mm (47-inch) wide inspection zone and sorts up to 4.5 metric tons (10,000 lbs.) of walnuts per hour.

Chute-fed laser sorter

Morada runs a standard double pass through Taurys. The first pass removes shells and other FM as well as defects such as shrivelled kernels. The second pass color sorts the nuts for grading purposes.

Marco Azzaretti, product manager, advanced inspection systems, Key Technology, told FoodProductionDaily, Taurys is its latest chute-fed laser sorter and it can be configured with detection wavelengths to sort on the color and structural properties of nuts, dried fruit, frozen fruits and vegetables, fresh cut produce, confectionery, coffee, and snacks.

Morada purchased one machine from Key Technology, which was installed in a new walnut shelling plant in Stockton, California, that included equipment from several other suppliers​,” he said.

Nut processors that do not use digital sorters rely on manual labor to inspect the product and remove shells and other FM and defects and color sort for grading. Because humans are subjective and inconsistent, the quality of the output can suffer. A worst case scenario would involve a customer breaking a tooth on a shell​.”

Taurys took three days to install in October last year and includes new architecture, a reengineered infeed chute, ejection manifold and lasers.

Japan, Korea & Germany


Azzaretti said it can handle higher incoming defect loads, increases detection resolution and improves the accuracy of defect and foreign material (FM) removal.

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, Morada. 

We’ve been running it 23 hours a day since we started up in October. It has a very high success rate and very low false rejects sorting 8,000 lbs. an hour​.”

Taurys’ settings can be stored and retrieved for fast changeovers on a graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI can reside locally and can be accessed remotely via Taurys’ OPC-compliant infrastructure.
Key constantly upgrades its digital sorters to improve product quality, increase yields, enhance production efficiencies and reduce costs​,” added Azzaretti.

One significant challenge is that improving product quality and increasing yields is naturally a trade-off and we’re striving to achieve both objectives simultaneously​.

Faster and more powerful data processing enables new software-driven capabilities to be developed, which improve product quality and increase yields. Additionally, sensor technologies such as advanced hyperspectral imaging, coupled with intelligent software and algorithms, are being deployed on digital sorters to achieve sorting decision and levels of performance​.”

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