Fructus Meran maximises sorting performance with Veryx sorters

Fructus Meran is leveraging state-of-the-art technology to transform sun-ripened fruit from northern Italy into value-added products that meet the strict requirements of an international customer base.

Looking to automate bulk product inspection on an IQF line, the producer of processed fruits turned to Key Technology and installed its first Veryx digital sorter in 2020. Impressed with its ability to remove all types of foreign material (FM) and the right amount of defects to make the grade, Fructus Meran purchased a second Veryx sorter for a ‘solid pack’ line.

“Before Veryx, we’d been manually sorting product on our IQF line, but it was becoming very difficult to find reliable people willing to do this kind of work, especially for the night shift. Fluctuations in the quality of incoming product added to the challenge by requiring us to adjust the number of labourers inspecting at any given time.

“Sometimes, we’d even have to slow the throughput of the line to give those workers the time they needed to adequately inspect the product flow,” said Peter Theiner, CEO at Fructus Meran. “Automating with Veryx solved these problems and more. It’s allowed us to reduce our labour requirements and increase our line capacity at the same time we’re maintaining our high product quality.”

Fructus Meran selected a mid-sized Veryx B140 sorter to inspect fresh peeled and cut apples and pears on their IQF line. For the ‘solid pack’ line, they chose a high-capacity Veryx B175 sorter to inspect fresh peeled and cut apples and pears that will later be stewed and packed into cans or pouches.

Both belt-fed sorters are fully-loaded with top- and bottom-mounted off-axis cameras as well as laser sensors and Key’s unique Pixel Fusion detection module to find and remove the most FM and the right amount of defects to make grade and maximise yield.

Recognising colour, size, shape and structural properties, these Veryx sorters are able to find and remove all types of FM including glass, rocks, plastics, insects, extraneous vegetative matter (EVM) and more as well as a variety of defects such as fruit cores, stems, calyx, seeds and light oxidation. According to Key, the world’s only belt-fed sorter can inspect product entirely in-air with top and bottom sensors. Veryx achieves all-sided surface inspection with no blind spots.

To maximise sort performance, each Veryx sorter at Fructus Meran is integrated with Key’s Sliver Sizer Remover (SSR) and Iso-Flo shaker. First, the SSR mechanically removes slivers, fines, seeds and juice that are inevitably produced during the peeling, coring and cutting processes.

Mechanically removing these process-generated by-products reduces the sorter’s load, which contributes to superior sort accuracy. Next, an Iso-Flo shaker gently spreads and stabilises product for presentation to the sorter’s inspection zone, helping the sorter eject more FM and the right amount of defects without false rejects.

“Of course, every customer wants us to remove all foreign material and all critical defects. But other specifications, such the acceptable amount of minor defects like tiny brown spots, often differ from one customer to another. We appreciate that Veryx allows us to easily adjust our sort settings to achieve each customer’s specifications,” noted Theiner. “Since we supply products to baby food processors and other quality-driven markets like Japan, it’s important that we can set the sorter to achieve that customer’s quality standards and then not deviate. Veryx is a fantastic tool that helps us keep our customers happy.”

“We’re always looking for new ways to improve our operations. Automating inspection with Veryx has helped us on so many levels,” concluded Theiner. “Given how tedious manual sorting is, our workers are happy to be trained for other jobs. And, by trading human subjectivity with a digital sorter’s objectivity, we’re able to improve the consistency of our product quality at the same time we’ve enhanced our yield. Thanks to our Veryx sorters, we’ve significantly reduced our manual labour requirements and increased our throughputs all while – most importantly – protecting our high product quality.”

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