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Image capture system improves defect detection tool, says firm

By Jane Byrne , 04-Nov-2008

A new digital image capture system enhances the monitoring capability of optical sorters for food products, claims Key Technology.

The company said that its new FMAlert feature for all G6 optical sorters is a powerful food safety tool as it enables sorters to capture and save a digital image of objects identified as foreign material (FM).

“This capability allows food processors to better track and control foreign material instances, which helps them maximize food safety and product quality,” said Bret Larreau, Processed Vegetable and Fruit Industry Manager for Key Technology.

Optical sorters are used for food products like fruits, vegetables, nets, potato strips, snack foods, confectionary and seafood. They are used to detect and remove defects and foreign material from such products and attempt to improve the historical trade-off between product quality and yield.

Larreau said that by tracking such objects early in the process, firms can avoid the problems defective items could cause to their product line.

Corrective action

He told FoodProductionDaily.com that the development of FMAlert was driven by the needs of select processors with a zero tolerance for critical foreign materials in their products:

“These processors want to not only remove foreign material from the production line, but to know what the material is so they can verify its removal and identify quality problems and take corrective action.

“For example, if conveyor belt pieces are found in the product stream, the processor can quickly check upstream equipment conditions and correct the problem,” said Larreau.

Downloadable images

He said that G6 optical sorters can be connected to a plant-wide network and programmed to alert operators or administrators if certain predefined conditions occur:

“Images can be viewed locally on the sorter’s graphical user interface, downloaded to a USB stick connected to the sorter, or viewed over a network connection,” explained Larreau.

Installation

He said that adding FMAlert to an existing G6 sorter such as Optyx, Tegra, Manta sorters or legacy sorters is as simple as updating the KeyWare application software.

“FMAlert settings, along with all other product settings, can be predefined for each product produced on the line, and stored and retrieved for fast and easy product changeover,” continued Larreau.

He said that the company can customize the software to capture images of objects that match specific criteria for size, shape, colour, and if the sorter is equipped with Raptor or FluoRaptor laser technology, differences in the objects’ structural properties such as the absence of chlorophyll.

Larreau said that the exact cost of the FMAlert depends on the application required.

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