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Key Technology Improves Nut and Dried Fruit Sorting with Pixel Fusion™

May 2, 2017 – Nut and dried fruit processors rely on Key Technology’s Pixel Fusion™ to meet the most stringent requirements for product quality and purity. By providing the clearest distinction between good product, shell, foreign material (FM), defects and different color grades, Pixel Fusion improves the accuracy of digital sorting. This effectiveness reduces the number of sorting passes required to make grade and virtually eliminates false rejects, which maximizes productivity and yield while consistently achieving the target product quality level.

VERYX® sorters equipped with Pixel Fusion identify and remove loose and embedded shell fragments, membrane material, broken nuts, product with surface scratches or insect damage, moisture-related defects, moldy product, color-based defects and FM including wood chips, stems, rocks, glass and more to satisfy consumers’ zero-tolerance for impurities. Tailored to meet the unique detection requirements of each application, VERYX with Pixel Fusion is ideal for sorting walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, cashews and dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, cranberries, apricots, figs and dates.

Pixel Fusion is an advanced detection module that combines pixel-level input from multiple cameras and laser scanners sharing the same line of sight to create a unique, unambiguous ‘signature’ for each type of substance in the product stream. Compared to other detection methods, which do not collect data from the same pixel at the same time, Pixel Fusion more precisely differentiates good product, shell, FM and defects, enabling VERYX to recognize and eject previously difficult-to-detect FM and subtle product defects such as wormholes.

“Nut and dried fruit customers using VERYX with Pixel Fusion achieve their final quality specifications with fewer inspection cycles and almost no good product in the reject stream. By reducing the number of sorting passes, productivity is increased while product degradation is reduced. Improving good product recovery maximizes yield,” said Marco Azzaretti, Advanced Inspection Systems Product Manager at Key. “Customers around the world with installed systems tell us they have up to 1.5 percent less good product in their reject stream since they started using VERYX with Pixel Fusion compared to their previous sorter.”

Pixel Fusion combines input from Key’s next-generation cameras and laser sensors. The 4-channel cameras distinguish millions of different colors, which enable the most accurate color grading and detection of color-based defects as well as the size and shape of each object. The laser scanners recognize the structural properties of each object’s surface for superior FM detection as well as product texture and moisture analysis.

These cameras and laser sensors offer twice the resolution of previous generation sorters to identify smaller shell fragments, FM and defects. The accuracy of the VERYX detection system is paired with a new, high-resolution ejection system, which features the closest spacing between air nozzles of any sorter in order to better target and remove undesirable objects. Intelligent software manages the air nozzles’ actuation strategy to suit the size, shape and weight of each object being removed. The combined precision of the detection and ejection systems results in the most complete removal of shells, FM and targeted product defects without sacrificing good product to the reject stream.

Key configures each VERYX sorter with the ideal sensor types, sensor positions, lighting, ejection system, product handling and software to meet each processor’s requirements. The modular sorter can be easily upgraded in the field with additional or different sensors to handle changing customer requirements over time. For nut and dried fruit processors that want to produce the highest final product quality, VERYX sorters can be configured with front- and rear-mounted cameras and laser sensors to achieve all-sided surface inspection.

VERYX is available in a variety of widths to meet the need of low- to high-capacity nut and dried fruit processors. With inspection zones that are 15 percent wider than comparatively sized sorters, VERYX customers achieve a higher throughput within a similar footprint and better singulation of product to improve sorting accuracy.

VERYX can be installed as a stand-alone sorter, either in-line or batch-fed, and in arrangements comprising a cascading line of multiple sorters, depending on the needs of the processor. Integrating Key’s Cayman® BioPrint® sorter upstream of VERYX creates a powerful combination. The Cayman hyperspectral sensors reliably sort even extremely dirty product, dramatically reducing shells and FM prior to VERYX performing an advanced sort on color, size, shape and structural properties to ensure the desired quality grade and maximum yield.

As Pixel Fusion makes more and richer information available to the sorter for more robust accept/reject decisions, digital data can also be harnessed to better understand exactly what is in the product stream at any given point in time or when sorting a specific product batch. Leveraging Key’s Information Analytics, a set of data acquisition and connectivity tools, VERYX can collect a broad range of product and operational data. The data can then be shared flexibly for off-line analysis or exchanged directly with a customer’s SCADA, Manufacturing Execution System or PLC network.

Key manufactures VERYX sorters in both the U.S. and Europe and supports customers worldwide through its global sales and service network.

For more information on Key’s VERYX, visit www.key.net/products/veryx.

About Key Technology, Inc.
Key Technology (NASDAQ: KTEC) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of automation systems including digital sorters, conveyors and other processing equipment. Applying processing knowledge and application expertise, Key helps customers in the food processing and other industries improve quality, increase yield, and reduce cost. An ISO-9001 certified company, Key manufactures its products at its headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington, USA; Beusichem, the Netherlands; Hasselt, Belgium; and Redmond, Oregon, USA. Key offers customer demonstration and testing services at five locations including Walla Walla, Beusichem, and Hasselt as well as Sacramento, California, USA and Melbourne, Australia; and maintains a sales and service office in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico.

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