Buhler showcases iconic optical sorter for unrivalled, safer & hygienic nut processing

The Buhler Group, a world-leader in optical sorting introduced the industry’s most hygienic optical sorting platform, at Pack Expo in Las Vegas, USA. The SORTEX F optical sorter provides best-in-class hygienic design and high capacity performance, for the nut and dried fruit processing industry – with orders from five processors already confirmed. Available with Buhler’s SORTEX BioVision™ technology, it provides 3-in-1 detection of colour defects, shell and foreign materials, for exceptional product quality and food safety.

Developed by in-house specialists, using current best practice and hygienic product design guidelines, the SORTEX F features the most accessible and easy to clean frame in the industry.  Its meticulous design minimizes the risk of physical and biological contamination that can harm consumers and lead to ruinous food product recalls.


Featuring a stainless steel, open design frame, with sloped surfaces, hygienic conduits and food-safe grade fixings, the SORTEX F allows for quick and easy cleaning and helps to eliminate the risk of cross contamination and product build up, as well as preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria that can induce food-borne diseases such as Salmonella, in low moisture foods. Furthermore, the finish of all its metal surfaces complies with the recommended requirement for safe food contact and all polymer materials are resistant to high pressure washer jets or air and conforms to FDA regulations.


Speaking about the importance of hygienic design, Buhler’s Head of Optical Sorting, Charith Gunawardena says; “The hygienic design of food processing equipment is one of the major prerequisites for the prevention of food contamination. The SORTEX F optical sorter provides nut processors with protection from foodborne hazards and brings tangible benefits to food manufacturers and processors – it reduces the risk of contamination, maintains product quality and increases productivity.”


SORTEX F with BioVision™ technology: Redefining sorting capabilities for nut processors

The marrying of Buhler’s SORTEX F optical sorting platform with its revolutionary BioVision™ technology, originally introduced in 2015, means nut manufacturers can not only achieve the most hygienic sort in the industry today – but also exceptional shell and foreign material detection at the highest capacity.


Buhler’s BioVision™ technology is capable of consistent, accurate sorting at double the capacity of other industry solutions. It effortlessly removes hazardous material up to 50% smaller than previously possible when processing almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts, using proprietary technology that targets the spectral and spatial difference between nut meats and shell and is capable of distinguishing subtle changes. For instance, SORTEX BioVision™ technology can discern the difference between pale shells and paler varieties of almonds, such as nonpareil. It can do all this in a single sort, minimising associated losses of good nuts – a solution unavailable until the launch of SORTEX BioVision™.


Nut processors applaud Buhler’s technological innovation

Five leading nut processors have already placed orders, including Minturn who are already using Buhler’s SORTEX BioVision™ technology.

The company, based in California’s Merced county, turned to Buhler technology when it needed to set itself apart from the competition. The company, which has processed California brown-skinned almonds since 1996, supplies markets all over the world – from Europe to Asia, shipping approximately 75% of its 40,000-tonne crop overseas, each year. It chose Buhler’s BioVision™ detection technology to improve food safety, traceability and eliminate foreign materials.

The company has implemented a 0% threshold for foreign materials. Adam Salwasser, ‎Director of Operations at the ‎company, says that even if incoming product comes in at 1% or even 1.5% FM that translates into 15,000 pieces of FM per bin which will need to be detected and removed in the cleaning process.

To solve the complicated challenges involved in processing almonds and eradicating FM, Minturn looked to Buhler and its SORTEX BioVision™ technology to address the inefficiencies presented by other technologies on the market.  Explains Salwasser: “We were looking for increased resolution, ejector spacing and overall accuracy of our process from new colour sorters. One of the advantages of SORTEX BioVision™ technology for us is that it takes different spectrums of light and looks at almond kernels in a way not possible before we found this technology.

“SORTEX BioVision™ is a combination of high definition, infrared and shape technology as well as custom-built biochromatic cameras. We knew that if we approached our sorting process with all three technologies, under the SORTEX BioVision™ technology brand, we would get the product we really wanted and would be able to set ourselves apart from our competitors; sorting faster and more accurately than anyone else in the business and that was important to us. We want to be the best in our industry, not only at FM removal, but also serious defect and split/broken kernel eradication.”


Gunawardena continues; “Nut processors are under increasing pressure to guarantee the purity of their products as food safety is a top priority for food manufacturers the world over. As a result, it has become our number one consideration, as we look to continually evolve and develop new processing technologies. By pairing two pieces of leading-edge, optical sorting and detection technology, we can now not only offer processors the ability to increase efficiency and therefore profits, but enable them to underline their food safety credentials to existing and potential clients. In today’s competitive market, this can often tip the balance, when it comes to negotiating new and existing contracts.

“By developing new solutions and building our knowledge, through collaboration and innovation with food processors and leading scientists, we are helping our customers produce safe food, reduce waste and comply with legal requirements, to maintain the trust of their consumers. The SORTEX F, with SORTEX BioVision™ technology, is the best all-in-one nut processing solution for the industry today.  It is easy to operate, while at the same time offering unprecedented performance and accuracy, safely delivering the quality standards required  and helping to prevent a wide range of hazards including pathogens and foreign materials” Gunawardena concludes.

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