Key Technology introduced its new sorting system for fresh-cut apple products. This versatile solution integrates Key’s Iso-Flo® shakers, rotary sizing and grading systems, belt conveyors and a VERYX® digital sorter. Removing pieces of stem, seeds, calyx/flower and core as well as foreign material and product defects like dark and light stains, rot and skin, this apple sorting line automates inspection to significantly improve overall product quality and increase yield while reducing labor requirements.
“Until now, fresh-cut apple processors around the world have typically relied on manual inspection to achieve their quality objectives. With our new apple sorting line, they’re able to automate and transform their entire operation,” said Karel Van Velthoven, Advanced Inspection Systems Product Marketing Manager at Key. “Beyond improving product quality and reducing operating costs, this totally new sorting strategy massively increases product recovery. Before, people inspected halves or wedges, so a lot of good product was lost with each defect. By placing VERYX after the cutter, the sorter inspects smaller apple pieces such as cubes and strips - every defect that’s removed takes much less good product out with it.”
This integrated solution gently sorts peeled and skin-on apples, as well as pears, which are cut in a variety of sizes and shapes including cubes, strips and wedges. With VERYX sorters available in different sizes, Key can design apple sorting lines for processors with production capacities from 3 to 15 metric tons (6,600 to 33,000 lb.) per hour.
The new solution begins with belt conveyors that transfer whole, halved or sliced apples, after they are peeled and cored, to Key’s Sliver Sizer Remover (SSR), which mechanically removes fines that result from the peeling and coring process. The product then continues to either a cutter that cuts the apples into different sizes and shapes or, if already sliced, directly on to the sorter.
A conveyor then carries the apple cubes, strips, dices or wedges to an Iso-Flo infeed shaker that spreads the product for presentation to a mechanical Precision Size Grader (PSG), which removes small pieces that are generated in the cutting process. Next, a Key Iso-Flo dewatering shaker removes any residual water while spreading and singulating product to feed the downstream VERYX sorter.
VERYX can also be equipped with Key’s powerful Information Analytics software, which allows users to analyze and share big data across their enterprise via an OPCUA-compliant infrastructure. Data about the sort process and about each and every object flowing through the sorter, whether the data is used to make sort decisions or not, is available to reveal patterns, trends and associations to optimize processes upstream and downstream of the sorter.