Company: Key Technology
Technology Snapshot: Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, has introduced Global View, a patented new software-driven capability for its VERYX digital sorters. Global View combines product data collected from multiple sensors with different vantage points around the product stream and enables the sorter to consider each object in its entirety when making classification and sort decisions. This unique software optimizes product quality, increases yield, collects more sophisticated data and reduces manual inspection.
“Without Global View, the sorter analyzes information from each sensor view independently, thereby relying on knowledge about a single side of an object to make an accept or reject decision. With Global View, multiple views of the same object are stitched together, and the accept or reject decision is based on information about the entire object,” explained Stephan Westcott, global automated inspection system product manager at Key. “This allows us to recognize defects based on an analysis of the total, multi-sided surface area of an object. Food sorting technology has struggled to control these types of defects until now. It’s very exciting and creates new possibilities for quality control.
Global View applies a sorter’s "classification logic" to the combined object data from more than one view to better remove defects, make grade and/or collect more complete data about food products. Combining data from multiple cameras, lasers or hyperspectral sensors with different perspectives, defects can be defined by color, size, shape, structural properties and/or chemical composition, depending on the sensor types and the needs of the processor. By considering the total surface area of an object and, when needed, determining the ratio of defects or other characteristics to that surface area, Global View introduces a new way to manage product quality. The handling of foreign material (FM) remains unchanged—the sorter targets all FM for removal, as always.
For example, almonds are graded with a quality score based on the percentage of scratched skin for each nut, among other things. If a grade allows up to one-quarter of a nut’s total surface area to be scratched, a traditional sorter equipped with two sensors considers each view independently – this requires processors to reduce the allowed tolerance for each view in case both sides have some scratches, or else they run the risk of accepting defective almonds. Global View considers front and back views together and calculates the true scratched surface area of the nut. This unique capability enables more accurate sort decisions, which increases the processor’s yield while still meeting the required quality grade.
Gummy candies provide other examples. If good gummies are defined as having white foam on one side and a different, colored ingredient on the other side, whole-object inspection is needed to detect whether one ingredient has been under applied, thereby rendering the candy piece defective. One customer makes gummy candies in the shape of a dog with a red nose applied on one side. To identify those with missing noses, the front and back of the candies need to be considered in unison. For this manufacturer and others with similar inspection requirements, Global View improves quality and reduces reliance on manual inspection to minimize labor.
In addition to helping a sorter make more intelligent accept/reject decisions, Global View can be harnessed to collect valuable data based on each object’s entire surface. Equipped with Key’s Information Analytics software, the sorter can collect data about the sort process and about each and every object flowing through it, whether the data is used to make sort decisions or not. For some applications, Global View adds value to Information Analytics by revealing new patterns, trends and associations.
Global View software is unique to Key’s VERYX digital sorters. As the world’s only sorter that achieves total in-air inspection on every platform configuration, each sensor sees the same object in the same place at the same time, which facilitates the fusing of each sensor’s data into whole-object views.
Key manufactures VERYX in both the U.S. and Europe and supports customers worldwide through its global sales and service network. For more information on VERYX, visit www.key.net/products/veryx.