Bühler sows the seeds of success at Red River.

08/02/2013 New SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs optical sorter delivers finished product quality of 99.99% purity for leading US sunflower seed processor. Bühler, a global leader in optical sorting, continues to strengthen its prominent position as a technology partner in seed processing, with the announcement that US-based Red River Commodities Inc, has raised the output quality of its sunflower seeds to near-perfect purity while simultaneously increasing yield by 50%, following their installation of Bühler’s innovative high capacity optical sorter, the SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs.

The outstanding performance of the new SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs marks a further milestone in Bühler’s continuing commitment to delivering yield, quality and food safety, in the most challenging of seed sorting applications.

Red River’s Operations and Engineering Manager, Todd Mondry, said: “Thanks to the SORTEX A, we’re able to demonstrate finished sunflower seed product quality of 99.99% 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, set-up is much simpler and quicker, which also helps us to maximise our profits.

“We are accustomed to the easy set-up 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, able to identify defects not possible with RGB technologies, the SORTEX A ColorVision InGaAs delivers exceptional yield through superior defect and foreign material (FM) detection. It excels in the most difficult of dry commodity food sorting applications, where the strictest levels of food quality and safety are non-negotiable. Red River’s commitment to food quality and safety is second to none, recognised by the American Institute of Baking for ‘Outstanding Excellence’.

As Mondry explained, customers now expect near perfect quality from every confectionary 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 1 inch long. These large seeds have made it difficult for traditional grain-cleaning equipment to clean sunflowers reliably and efficiently, without excessive loss of good seeds. Adding SORTEX colour 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 recently adding the SORTEX A.

Red River found Bühler’s InGaAs and Shape technology to be the most effective solution for removing challenging foreign materials, such as sticks, stems, stones, glass and importantly – sclerotia – a compact mass of hardened fungal mycelium (ie the vegetative part of a fungus).

Mondry added: “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-sort on a single machine, offers a distinct advantage.

“When sorting sunflower seeds we have to remove foreign materials of varying shades of colour, size and shape, including sunflower head patty, plant stalk, sticks, cockleburs, corn, sclerotia, soybeans and rocks, to name a few. These defects can be easily removed from the good seed with very high accuracy and very little loss of good seed.”

Being able to ensure higher quality sorted product enables Red River to maximise its profits by selling premium grade seeds of exceptional quality and safety. Waste is minimised too, because even in-shell rejected seeds can be shelled and sold as perfectly safe kernels for human consumption, albeit for a lower net value.

The improved reject concentration delivered by SORTEX technology allows better conversions of in-shell sunflowers and higher volume of in-shell sales. As a result, the quality of Red River’s top grade output product has risen to a near-perfect 99.99%. Now with the installation of the SORTEX A, Red River can do this at much higher volumes maximising profitability.

Mondry was equally satisfied with the support he received. He added: “The responsiveness of the Team Total Care program and service group has been excellent, too. The online monitoring of our equipment has provided us with valuable real-time monitoring of our equipment performance.”

Bühler is committed to further innovation to help extend the range of optical sorting application for seed processing and to help its customers improve productivity and lower their processing costs. As seed processors look to adopt more advanced, cost-effective and energy efficient processes, the demand for Bühler’s leading optical sorting solutions will continue to grow.