Manufacturing News

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,

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Shane O'Halloran

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2015

Mars Chocolate was chosen as Food Engineering’s 2015 Plant of the Year. The first new Mars candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering April 2015 Cover

2015 April

The April 2014 issue of Food Engineering features the Plant of the Year: Mars Chocolate. The first new Mars chocolate candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.