Food Safety
Tech Update: X-ray & Optical Inspection

New types of foreign material and product flaws detected

X-ray, camera and laser sorting technologies are coming of age in new configurations and applications that improve productivity and reduce false rejects while detecting harder-to-find flaws.

May 13, 2013

Mergers and Acquisitions in Inspection Systems

Key Technology Inc., a Walla Walla, Wash.- based provider of belt-fed optical camera/laser sorters, vibratory-, motion- and electromagnetic-conveyors and processing equipment, entered into a merger agreement in February with Visys NV, Hasselt, Belgium, a supplier of chute-fed in-air sorters and advanced laser detection technology. 
Vysis will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Key Technology and in the long-term equipment from one company will also be produced in the factory of the other. Frank Zwerts, formerly president of Vysis, is named president of Europe, Middle East, India and Africa for Key Technology. Zwerts will maintain an office at Key’s technology center in Beusichem, the Netherlands.
Vysis offers a fully digital laser sorter, where the light from the laser contacts the sensor and is immediately digitized. Key offers a digital sorter, however its approach processes the reflected laser light through an additional sensor technology before digitizing the image. 
Vysis also pioneered work in the development of BioPrint Hyperspectral imaging technology, which uses a broad range of wavelengths within the NIR spectrum to create a unique fingerprint of the product. Key has targeted the potato processor as a primary strategic market with its technology, while Vysis chute-fed systems and technologies focus primarily on nut and dried fruit applications. Both technologies are used to treat wide array of vegetables and fruits.
Tomra Sorting Solutions, Asker, Norway, late last year acquired 100% of the shares of Belgian Electronic Sorting Technology (Best), Kwadraat NV, Belgium, a supplier of laser- and X-ray based free-fall sorting technology.  The acquisition brings several advanced optical sorting inspection technologies under a single roof while complementing Tomra’s existing belt-sort solutions based on laser, camera, and X-ray technologies.
The acquisition is the second purchase of a food-focused supplier of optical sorting equipment and technology by the Tomra Sorting Group. In 2011 it purchased Odenberg Inc., a West Sacramento, Calif. - based supplier of optical sorters, graders and peelers. (Odenberg also manufacturers a fat analyzer for the meat industry). Tomra recently sold the chilling/freezing unit from Odenberg to a newly formed company, Power Food Technology Ltd., of Ireland. 
Tomra offers its technologies for the food industry under the Tomra Best and Tomra Odenberg brand names. “Best and Tomra Sorting complement each other perfectly in terms of technology and market coverage,” says Best CEO Paul Berghmans.
Mettler Toledo Group, a global manufacturer of precision instruments for use in laboratory, industrial and food retailing applications, in March 2011 acquired Eagle Precision Inspection, which supplies two dual X-ray technologies and a Quad beam approach.
Eagle, formerly known as Smiths Detection Product Inspection, will continue to operate as a separate business entity, and will compete in the marketplace against technology from Mettler Toledo Safeline, suppliers of X-ray technology, and Mettler CI-Vision, which offers camera-based vision systems. Eagle opened a new R&D facility new Wiesbaden, Germany, invested in a new engineering lab and testing/demonstration center at its headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and is establishing a new team of product specialists in Shanghai. Nick Marck was appointed to the post of North American business manager.

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