Key Technology, a member of Duravant’s food sorting and handling solutions group, introduced optical sorters for processed protein products, such as frozen chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, fish sticks, plant-based meat alternatives and more. Automatically removing product defects and foreign material (FM), Key’s optical sorters, including COMPASS and VERYX, are designed to help optimize product quality while improving yield and reducing labor.
Key’s COMPASS and VERYX optical sorters detect the color, size, shape and/or structural properties of objects to identify and remove a variety of product defects including clumps of product, clumps of breading/batter and product that hasn’t been formed, cooked or coated correctly. Foreign material (FM), such as plastic, metal, glass and paper, that may have been accidentally introduced to the production line is also removed. For processed protein applications, optical sorting is most often utilized immediately prior to packaging for final inspection but may also be utilized upstream to inspect incoming ingredients.
Each sorting system is customized by Key in the size and configuration to address the processor’s product characteristics and line requirements. Key infeed and collection conveyors can be integrated with the sorter to move product and preserve its integrity while maximizing sort accuracy. Optional conveyor screens are available to remove fines prior to sorting, if needed.
Engineered to satisfy sanitary standards required for protein processing, Key’s optical sorters feature open designs, sloped surfaces and more to maximize equipment hygiene and ease cleaning.
COMPASS and VERYX sorters are equipped with Key Discovery, a data analytics and reporting software that enables the sorter to collect and analyze data about objects flowing through the sorter to reveal patterns that can help improve upstream and downstream processes.
The company says its optical sorters for frozen protein products virtually eliminate the need for manual inspection, which decreases labor costs and achieves consistent FM and defect removal. Fast and accurate recipe-driven changeovers maximize production versatility and uptime while ensuring repeatable results. Operator qualification requirements allow a minimally skilled individual to become a proficient user of the system in less than one hour, the company states.