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Key Technology Introduces Sorting System for Apple Slices

Key Technology apple sorting system

Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, introduces its new sorting system for fresh-cut apple products.

This versatile solution integrates Key’s Iso-Flo shakers, rotary sizing and grading systems, belt conveyors, and a Veryx digital sorter. Removing pieces of stem, seeds, calyx/flower, and core, as well as foreign material (FM), and product defects like dark and light stains, rot, and skin, this apple sorting line automates inspection to improve overall product quality and increase yield while reducing labor requirements.

“Our expertise in both digital sorting and product handling enables us to design highly innovative and effective integrated systems to solve persistent food processing challenges,” said Karel Van Velthoven, advanced inspection systems product marketing manager at Key. “Until now, fresh-cut apple processors around the world have typically relied on manual inspection to achieve their quality objectives. With our new apple sorting line, they’re able to automate and transform their entire operation. Beyond improving product quality and reducing operating costs, this totally new sorting strategy massively increases product recovery. Before, people inspected halves or wedges, so a lot of good product was lost with each defect. By placing Veryx after the cutter, the sorter inspects smaller apple pieces such as cubes and strips - every defect that’s removed takes much less good product out with it.”

This integrated solution gently sorts peeled and skin-on apples, as well as pears, which are cut in a variety of sizes and shapes including cubes, strips, and wedges. With Veryx sorters available in different sizes, Key can design apple sorting lines for processors with production capacities from 6,600 to 33,000 lb/hr.

The new solution begins with belt conveyors that transfer whole, halved, or sliced apples, after they are peeled and cored, to Key’s Sliver Sizer Remover (SSR), which mechanically removes fines that result from the peeling and coring process. The product then continues to either a cutter that cuts the apples into different sizes and shapes or, if already sliced, directly on to the sorter. By cutting whole or halved apples instead of wedges, the yield from the cutter is improved since there are fewer slivers. When whole or half apples are the final product, the cutter can be easily bypassed. A conveyor then carries the apple cubes, strips, dices, or wedges to an Iso-Flo infeed shaker that spreads the product for presentation to a mechanical Precision Size Grader (PSG) that removes small pieces that are generated in the cutting process. Next, a Key Iso-Flo dewatering shaker removes any residual water while spreading and singulating product to feed the downstream Veryx sorter.

Equipped with top- and bottom-mounted cameras and laser sensors, Veryx detects color, size, shape, and structural properties of every object--including the presence of chlorophyll--to find and remove defects and FM.

Key Technology, Walla Walla, WA 509-529-2161 www.key.net

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