Blueberry processor uses digital sorter to improve defect removal
Digital sorter more accurately removes foreign material
Quebec Wild Blueberries, one of the largest and most progressive blueberry processors in the world, develops distinctive products that exceed industry standards.
The company invests in the latest technology to continuously improve production efficiencies and elevate quality. In 2016, the company purchased a VERYX digital sorter from Key Technology. Replacing an existing laser sorter at Quebec Wild Blueberries, VERYX more accurately removes defects and foreign material from the product stream.
“With VERYX, we improved product quality and reduced false rejects. We also doubled our throughput with the same number of workers, which decreased our production costs,” says Pascal Hudon, Director of Operations at Quebec Wild Blueberries. “Compared to our previous sorter, VERYX has increased our defect removal rate by about 3000 percent. It’s simply incredible.”
To sort blueberries coming out of the freezer at their Saint-Bruno facility, Quebec Wild Blueberries selected a VERYX model C140 specially tailored to its application requirements. This chute-fed sorter with a 1400-mm wide inspection area is capable of sorting up to 20,000 lb. of frozen berries per hour. The system sensor configuration includes front- and rear-mounted laser sensors and color cameras to achieve all-sided surface inspection. Multi-sensor Pixel Fusion combines pixel-level input from the laser sensors and cameras to more clearly differentiate good product from defects and FM without false positives.
Programmed for Quebec Wild Blueberries to sort frozen blueberries, VERYX finds and ejects twigs, bits of wood, stones, moss and other foreign material, as well as blueberries with attached stalks and foreign berries. Featuring next-generation cameras and laser sensors that offer twice the resolution of previous sorters, VERYX detects smaller foreign material and defects than previous sorters.
Detection and removal accuracy is further improved by marrying Key’s product handling expertise with its sort technology. At Quebec Wild Blueberries, an Iso-Flo infeed shaker was specially designed for frozen blueberries to optimize stabilization and separation of the product prior to the sorter. The patented Chycane chute on VERYX features a concave shape that stabilizes the product as it transitions into the sorter’s inspection and ejection zones.
In 2016, Quebec Wild Blueberries cleaned, size-graded and froze 82 million pounds of fresh wild blueberries during their 45-day harvest in August and September at their four production facilities located within the boreal region of Canada. Berries are then pulled from the freezers year round when they’re sorted and packed for delivery to private label customers around the world.
“VERYX is easy to use, which helps it perform at peak. The UI is simpler than other sorters, and it presents different interfaces to workers of various levels. The sorter connects remotely to Key, which supports our operations, and it’s connected to our plant-wide network too. We use the sorter to collect data and produce reports, so we’ve got a lot more information than we’ve had in the past. That data is very useful in that it allows us to have better control over our production,” says Hudon. “The people at Key are also high performance. Their service is superior to other suppliers.
“Our clients’ quality requirements evolve as their customers get more and more demanding. We stay ahead by leveraging the most advanced technology,” says Hudon. “Thanks to VERYX, we’re packaging the highest quality product.”