Key Technology Debuts VERYX Digital Sorters for Berries

Key Technology has introduced VERYX® digital sorters for processing frozen and fresh berries. Featuring an innovative mechanical architecture, sustained all-sided surface inspection, next-generation cameras and lasers, multi-sensor Pixel Fusion™, a high-precision ejection system, specialized product handling systems and ease of use, they have been designed to maximize sorting accuracy.

Manufactures both in the USA and Europe to support customers worldwide, the customized chute- and belt-fed sorters increase foreign material (FM) and defect removal to enhance product quality while virtually eliminating false rejects to increase yield.

Ideal for blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and other fruit, VERYX inspects individually quick frozen (IQF) and non-frozen berries as well as crumble and powder products. Recognizing each object’s color, size, shape and structural properties, the equipment detects and removes soft fruit, broken berries, color-based defects and both organic and inorganic FM including stems, leaves, metal, glass, rocks, paperboard, plastics and rubber of any color.

key vertx for berries

“Small, delicate, high-value berries require very gentle handling and precise sorting to maximize product quality and minimize yield loss. We have a long history and deep expertise sorting both frozen and fresh berries, which we leveraged when designing VERYX for these applications,” said Marco Azzaretti, Key’s advanced inspection systems product manager. “The first installations have been in production at locations around the world for several months now, and processors are reporting outstanding sorting results.”

The highest resolution cameras and laser sensors on a digital sorter detect the smallest defects and FM. Up to four channels of information from the cameras and up to eight channels from the laser scanner satisfy a range of application requirements, from basic to complex. Pixel Fusion is a patented advanced detection technology that combines pixel-level input from multiple camera and laser sensors to provide the clearest possible differentiation between good product, defects and FM. It assures consistent removal of difficult-to-detect stems and other foreign materials without ‘false positives’ (the incorrect identification of good product as defect or FM), ensuring the desired product quality and maximizing yield at the same time.

Available in various widths to accommodate small- to high-capacity production environments, VERYX offers a modular design that is configured with ideal sensor types, sensor positions, lighting, ejection system, product handling and software to meet specific requirements of processors. As future sorting needs change, the sorter can easily be upgraded in the field with additional or different sensor types to accommodate new customer requirements.

VERYX chute- and belt-fed sorters offer in-air inspection and the ability to view all sides of the product, including fruit with complex shapes such as strawberries. Total surface inspection virtually eliminates blind spots to maximize defect detection and removal. All-sided inspection is sustained throughout the production cycle without requiring manual cleaning, because VERYX’s architecture strategically positions sensors, light sources and backgrounds away from product splatter and contamination zones.

Combining Key’s expertise in sorting and product handling, VERYX sorting solutions for berries integrate specialized in-feed and collection systems that gently handle fragile fruit without damage to preserve the product’s integrity. Optimally conveying and controlling each object through the sorting process improves product stabilization to create a consistent trajectory through the inspection and ejection zones, which ensures ultimate accuracy in sorting out every piece of FM and defective product while avoiding the inadvertent removal of good product. Designing in-feed and collection systems with the ideal operating parameters and surface characteristics for berries ensures gentlest handling so frozen fruit doesn’t chip or break.

VERYX includes smart features such as auto-learning, self-adjustment algorithms, predictive system diagnostics, smart alarms and FMAlert™, which enable it to adapt to normal changes in the product and environment and perform without operator intervention. As result, VERYX can run function unattended during normal production runs. Minimal sanitation requirements and simplified maintenance reduce downtime and the customer’s total cost of ownership.

To further ease use and simplify operator training, Key developed an intuitive new UI working with Human-Machine Interface experts. The VERYX UI provides different views to users of various levels, depending on their needs. Recipe-driven operation and repeatable system calibration ensure customers can count on consistent performance day in and day out, including running the same product across multiple sorters in different locations. For customers running multiple product types on the same system, the ergonomic VERYX UI enables the sorter to run a new product or grade at the touch of a button. Operator qualification requirements are reduced, allowing a minimally skilled operator to become a proficient user of the technology in less than one hour.

About Key Technology

Key Technology designs and produces a wide range of process automation systems including digital sorters, conveyors, and processing equipment. Manufacturing takes place at the ISO-9001-certified company’s headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington, USA; Beusichem, the Netherlands; Hasselt, Belgium; and Redmond, Oregon, USA. Customer demonstration and testing services are offered at five locations including Walla Walla, Beusichem, and Hasselt, as well as Sacramento, California, USA, and Melbourne, Australia. In addition, Key has a sales and service office in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico.