SORTEX PolarVision Launch Focuses on Food Safety Concern

The Bühler Group on June 28 unveiled two significant industry innovations to help frozen fruit and vegetable processors achieve what it calls “the highest standards yet” in food safety and hygiene. SORTEX PolarVision™ advanced technology for foreign material (FM) detection is designed to make it easier for processors to meet the most stringent safety specifications, while Bühler’s SORTEX F optical sorter features multiple developments for hygienic processing. 

The SORTEX PolarVision platform is a sophisticated FM detection system engineered to deliver outstanding results in the processing of a wide array of frozen foods. From single products such as peas or raspberries, to more complex vegetable mixes that may contain seafood and spices, it operates from one simple set-up, with a substantial improvement on identifying and eliminating difficult-to-detect defects from conveyor lines.

buehler 01The system works by combining two dedicated FM detection technologies – the SORTEX PolarCam™ and high definition InGaAsHD™ – both developed in response to industry demand for cutting-edge technology to tackle the problem of hard-to-spot defects, including snails, dark and light plastics, wood, cardboard, cigarette butts, glass and stones.

SORTEX PolarCam™ is an advanced FM camera designed to see the difference between vegetable and non-vegetable matter, regardless of color. It is therefore possible to process different products or mixes, with little or no change to settings, and still detect non-vegetable material such as dark FM, black plastic, stones, snails and insects.

High definition InGaAsHD technology has double the resolution of standard InGaAs and can recognize smaller pieces of hazardous material half the size previously detectable.  

These combined technologies offer a complete FM solution that reduces the need for adjustment between products, as visible cameras are not required. Dedicated FM controls improve the usability of the system, making the job easier for operators.

The launch comes at a key time when safety is high on the industry agenda. Processors face a constant challenge to detect and remove FM and keep pace with a food industry that is continuously innovating to create often complex, value-added products that must adhere to rigorous safety standards.

Bühler’s existing technologies already offer leading-edge solutions to the processing industry, such as the PROfile shape system for removal of extraneous vegetable matter (EVM) and its custom built visible cameras for detecting gross and subtle color defects and thus enhance product quality and uniformity. SORTEX PolarVision now takes optical sorting to the next level.

All-New SORTEX F

To maximize the full potential of SORTEX PolarVision technology, Bühler has developed a dedicated sorting platform – the SORTEX F optical sorter.

Developed by in-house specialists, using current best practice and hygienic product design guidelines, it features a stainless steel frame, sloped surfaces, hygienic conduits, stainless steel air set and hygienic grade fixings said to deliver an “unrivalled solution with no tolerance for product build-up, thereby lowering the risk of contamination.”

The machine reportedly sets a new standard in ejection technology, with an EJECTOR+ feature that uses 25% more force to eliminate denser contaminants. Together with SmartEject™ technology, removal of unwanted and hazardous materials – from fine wood shavings to heavier pieces of glass and stones – takes place rapidly and efficiently.

SORTEX PolarVision cameraSORTEX PolarVision is available on the SORTEX F and as an upgrade option for processors currently using Bühler’s SORTEX E1D Optical Sorter.

Bühler R&D specialist Ben Deefholts explained how the leading-edge technology was developed:

“Based on our understanding of the issues processors were facing with existing technologies, in detecting a cross-section of FM, we put together an in-house research project to analyze spectral data from a wide range of vegetable material, typical FM and samples of other FM that customers were finding difficult to detect using existing technology. We used the results of the research to create a combination of cameras and optics, including a revised InGaAs HD technology and a new IR camera with active background.”

He continued: “Fruit and vegetable processors often run many different products down a packing line in one day, so they need to be able to switch easily between them. This means they normally need generic FM removal, with additional specific programs for color defects or EVM based on shape. The SORTEX E and SORTEX F with PolarVision makes adjustment of the sorter much more intuitive, and better suits busy packing lines.”

Stephen Jacobs, global product manager at Bühler, added: “We believe SORTEX PolarVision is the first and only system on the market which can deliver such superior FM detection across multiple products with complete ease. Combine this with the SORTEX F platform, and you have a revolutionary solution which addresses two of the biggest issues in the food industry today – safety and hygiene.”

Based in London, England, Bühler Sortex Ltd. is a unit of the Bühler Group, a family-owned food processing equipment and advanced materials technology company with annual turnover of approximately CHF 2.3 billion. Headquartered in Uzwil, Switzerland, it employs 10,600 people at 140 sites around the world.