Sensor-based sorting systems pioneer TOMRA Sorting Solutions has made its latest technological breakthrough for nut and raisin processors available in its Nimbus free-fall machine.
The company has introduced its unique biometric signature identification (BSI) technology, developed in-house by its own experts, into the Nimbus sorter. The technology works by detecting the biometric characteristics of the nuts and raisins it scans and comparing them with features in its stored database, to determine whether they should be accepted or rejected.
TOMRA Sorting Solutions food market development director Bjorn Thumas said: "Benefits of the BSI technology include that it makes the Nimbus an ideal pre-sorting machine. The increased options the innovation provides also enhance the system’s ability to operate in other areas of the production line, it’s now the perfect re-sort or recycle unit, for minimising good product loss, for example.
"In addition, the state-of-the-art BSI module now detects even smaller defects, compared to conventional spectral technology, enhancing nut and raisin sorting quality and retaining nearly all sound material, while reducing the number of passes needed and level of breakage. The technology therefore offers users lower labour time and higher throughput, yield and efficiency. The Nimbus can now also be used effectively for normal or reverse sorts, the latter involving sound produce, rather than faulty material, being ejected.
"A further new benefit is that the Nimbus’s light source, incorporating our patent pending flying-beam principle, enables nut and raisin processors to implement scan shields, counteracting factors such as dust efficiently and keeping inspection windows clean at all times. It does this while delivering benefits in power consumption and reduced maintenance, thereby cutting costs and ensuring constant optimal performance."
The BSI technology represents a significant piece of co-operation between market-leading brands ODENBERG and BEST, which have joined forces within TOMRA’s food business. It also demonstrates the group’s ability to spread innovation across its specialist divisions, as the technology had previously been deployed in its recycling business.
"The BSI module can be a stand-alone inspection platform or used with the laser modules on the Nimbus sorters, all of whose previous attributes are still available," Thumbus added. "Rather than thinking in terms of ‘standard’ Nimbus machines, we recommend nut and raisin processors share their individual requirements with us, so we can provide customised solutions, tailor-made for their particular needs, as the machines are fully modular and offer numerous feature combinations."
Even before the BSI technology was developed, the Nimbus multiple laser and high-resolution camera system permitted sorting by color, structure, size and shape in free-fall and could sort based on material type, using conventional near infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy.
The ejection system already used an optimal pitch for enhanced defect removal and the machine could be equipped with a front sorting or rear ejection system, for greater flexibility and reduced false reject rates. For some applications, a three-way sort is available, reducing handling and maximising process flexibility.
The Nimbus Smart Sort module also helps operators set parameters by analysing samples of incoming products and providing programme set-up simply and quickly. In addition, the revolutionary digital Flex Sort technology eliminates the need to select and change the optimal reference drum for each product, improving the contrast between good and defective items.
Quality control and feedback are secured via the intuitive graphical user interface and touchscreen, with customers and TOMRA Sorting engineers being able to access the system’s settings from anywhere in the world. Benefits of the Nimbus system, even before the latest development, included its user-friendliness and low maintenance, plus its versatility and upgradeability.
Among the nut-related applications of the Nimbus are almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower and sesame seeds, walnuts, pine nuts and Brazil nuts.
The advent of the BSI technology, now also available to TOMRA food sector customers in its market-leading Field Potato Sorter, follows the company becoming the first provider to introduce high-resolution sensors with adapted spectrums into its solutions, making them ideal for optical sorting, during the last 12 months.