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Key Technology has introduced a three-way sorting capability on its Manta automated sorter for the food industry.

Featuring two ejector systems, three-way sorting allows food processors to automatically eject product that can be reworked and recovered separately from material sent to waste, typically foreign material (FM).

Good product continues through the camera/laser sorter unaffected as usual.

Key Technology said this capability allows processors to produce a high-quality finished product without losing recoverable off-grade product to the waste stream or requiring additional sorting expense to separately rework product.

Manta with three-way sorting is suitable for processors that want to remove foreign material as well as valuable off-grade product from their primary product.

For these processors, traditional two-way sorters require the reject stream be re-sorted using manual inspection or a second automated sorting system to recover valuable off-grade product.

Depending on the application, moving to three-way sorting can increase yields, reduce the risk of FM in finished product, reduce labour costs, and/or minimise capital equipment.

Bret Larreau, optical product manager at Key Technology, said: ‘Green bean processors are using the three-way sort to remove FM with the first ejector and remove beans with remaining stems, which are subsequently re-snipped with the second ejector.

‘Potato processors are using the three-way sort to control for length.

‘The second reject stream, for product that can be reworked and recovered, improves the quality of the pass stream, accepting only good product that matches product specifications,’ he added.

Manta is Key’s highest-capacity, high-performance sorter, which features a 2m-wide scan area that maximises throughput in a space-saving footprint.

Handling up to 24 metric tons (60,000lb) of product an hour, Manta performs high-resolution imaging of each object to detect and remove the smallest defects and foreign material via both colour sorting and laser sorting.

Using Key’s proprietary colour cameras, Manta recognises each object’s size and shape as well as millions of colour differences to remove defects based on user-defined accept/reject standards.

Integrating the company’s Raptor laser technology into Manta allows the sorter to inspect objects’ structural properties, which is often the most effective method for detecting and removing foreign material.

As a high-speed belt sorter, product discharges Manta sorters with a consistent trajectory that enables the software to accurately pinpoint foreign material and defective products to eject.

Featuring two ejector systems and two reject chutes, Manta equipped for three-way sorting is very versatile.

It can be changed over within seconds via the touchscreen to achieve traditional two-way sorting of off-grade products with no recoverable value.

Manta is based on Key’s G6 electro-optical platform.

Featuring a modular design and high-performance connectivity standards such as Camera Link, Firewire, and Ethernet, Manta ensures forward compatibility to maximise a food processor’s long-term return on investment.

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