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Process Technology 13.06.2011

BEST launches new and improved sorter for fresh berry sorting

BEST (Belgian Electronic Sorting Technology) is an innovative company specialized in developing and manufacturing sorting machinery for the food and non-food industry.

BEST (Belgian Electronic Sorting Technology) is an innovative company specialized in developing and manufacturing sorting machinery for the food and non-food industry. Based on the success of the BEST Primus sorter in the fresh blueberry industry and by listening to the requirements of the blueberry farmers, BEST has developed a brand new machine that is the perfect answer to the needs of the berry processors for the fresh and IQF market.

The new state-of-the-art sorter, called Primus Gemini, combines all latest optical BEST components, implemented in a brand new and improved mechanical set-up.

Conventionally, fresh blueberries needed to be sorted on two separate machines, one to take out the discolored products, the other for soft berry detection. Because of this double sorting step, the berry was dropped down the sorters twice, resulting in a higher risk of bruising. Another disadvantage was the fact that often one machine was used for both detection steps, resulting in a higher false reject load and the machine not being able to handle all defects, when the incoming product was machine picked and thus had a higher amount of defects.

The new Primus Gemini sorter allows the blueberry farmer to first sort his berries on color, reject the off spec products and further on inspect the blueberries again and remove the structural defects using laser technology. Both sorting steps are integrated in one single sorter. This allows the processors to limit the risk of damaging and separate both reject streams, which now can be used for different purposes, where before they were frequently lost.

For some varieties of berries, formerly farmers needed to keep the berries on the bushes, since they were of very low quality, containing too many defects. Picking and sorting them would mean significant investment in labor, for a product that was difficult to sell. Now the farmers have the possibility to even sort these berries, because the inspection has improved and is more specific and reject streams are kept apart.

Because the sorter’s intelligence makes sure that defects are inspected separately, the sorting process is more accurate and precise, limiting the false reject, for an optimal yield. The sorter has kept the advantages of gentle handling of the berries of its predecessor. The belt is thin and round, which ensures the crucial gentle product handling for delicate products as fruit. When processing the fresh berries it is important that the “white bloom” on the berries is kept. This is achieved by minimizing the drops and rolling of the fruit during inspection. The Primus can be equipped with a different number of belts, to suit different varieties.

The new machine also features a simple graphical user interface (GUI), so operators can easily increase or decrease sensitivities on red, green or soft and even take frame grabs for optimal sorting results. Also other types of fruit can be sorted on this new Primus Gemini, like cherries, cranberries and IQF raspberries.

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