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Case History: Sowing the seeds of success at Red River

New SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs optical sorter delivers finished product quality of 99.99 percent purity for leading US sunflower seed processor.

Bühler announced that seed processor Red River Commodities Inc., has raised the output quality of its sunflower seeds to near-perfect purity while simultaneously increasing yield by 50 percent following the installation of a Bühler high-capacity optical sorter, the SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs. Todd Mondry, Red River’s operations and engineering manager, says, “Thanks to the SORTEX A, we’re able to demonstrate finished sunflower seed product quality of 99.99 percent purity. We’re also demonstrating higher capacities, with significantly higher recovery rates on our in-shell sunflower processing lines. Furthermore, because the SORTEX A allows us to do a multi-pass sort on our sunflower products on a single machine, setup is much simpler and quicker, which also helps us maximize our profits.

“We are accustomed to the easy setup and precision sorting accuracy of SORTEX technology, from previous Bühler optical sorters, which we also use. However, the configuration flexibility offered by the SORTEX A for multi-pass sorting really does set it apart.”

Fitted with an enhanced inspection system, including four-wavelength technology (visible and infrared) and PROfile (shape) detection technology that identify defects not possible with RGB technologies, the SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs delivers high yield through enhanced defect and foreign material (FM) detection. It is designed for difficult dry commodity food sorting applications.

As Mondry explains, customers now expect near-perfect quality from every confectionery sunflower seed they buy. “Meeting that challenge wasn’t possible without adding SORTEX technology into our process flow. The confection sunflower hybrids produce seeds that are about one-inch long. These large seeds have made it difficult for traditional grain-cleaning equipment to clean sunflowers reliably and efficiently, without the excessive loss of good seeds. Adding SORTEX color sorters into our process really has put us at the cutting edge of seed-cleaning capability.”

Initially, Red River invested in several SORTEX Z+R optical sorters equipped with InGaAs and PROfile shape technology for its undecorticated sunflower applications and a SORTEX Z+B for decorticated sunflowers, before adding the SORTEX A. 

Red River found Bühler’s InGaAs and Shape technology to be effective solution for removing challenging foreign materials, such as sticks, stems, stones, glass and sclerotia—a compact mass of hardened fungal mycelium (i.e., the vegetative part of a fungus).

Mondry adds, “SORTEX machines are at the technological cutting edge of the grains color-sorting industry. Specifically, being able to sort in the visible light spectrum and two separate infrared light spectrums, as well as shape-sorting on a single machine, offers a distinct advantage.”

Being able to ensure higher-quality sorted product enables Red River to maximize profits by selling premium-grade seeds of exceptional quality and safety. Waste is minimized too, because even in-shell rejected seeds can be shelled and sold as safe kernels for human consumption for a lower net value. 

The improved reject concentration delivered by SORTEX technology allows better conversions of in-shell sunflowers and a higher volume of in-shell sales. With the installation of the SORTEX A, Red River can do these things at much higher volumes, maximizing profitability.

For more information: Don Uglow,  209-983-8400, don.uglow@buhlergroup.com.

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