The SORTEX E1C sets new standards for pecan sorting at Navarro

02/01/2013 Just south of Dallas, Texas, in the town of Corsicana, stands one of the world’s largest pecan processing facilities, Navarro Pecan Company. Their plant, which typically handles around 20% of US production, processes around 50 million pounds of in-shell pecans each year. To support their mission to “provide pecans of superior quality, safety and value to their customers,” Navarro turned to Bühler for its sorting expertise. The Navarro Pecan Company purchased Bühler’s SORTEX E1C optical sorter after extensive production tests, including 10 different sizes of pecan halves and pieces. As a result, the company has improved their efficiency and the output quality of their pecan products.

Navarro discovered that the SORTEX E1C offers versatility and accuracy in a wide range of sorting applications. Utilizing an array of technologies, including broad-spectrum lighting, visible cameras, Enhanced InGaAs and PROfile (shape and structure) technology, this “all-in-one” sorter allows the flexibility to switch from one application to another effortlessly, with minimal operator intervention. The changeover is achieved by simply enabling or disabling the “mode” or “recipe” of the sorter. Depending on the application, combinations of defect, foreign material, shape and color can be adjusted independently or simultaneously, making the handling of the sorting process both easy and straightforward for plant operators.

Because of the SORTEX E1C’s versatility, the entire sorting process is completed in a series of steps on just a single sorter. The first sort removes foreign material and defective product, including discolored nuts, shell and membrane. Once the product is free of contaminants, the next step is to focus on the color grading of the pecans into Amber, Choice and Fancy.

Navarro appreciates that the SORTEX E1C has increased their sorting capacities and efficiencies compared to other sorting equipment. According to O. Keith Owen IV, Sorting & Technology Manager at Navarro Pecan, “The SORTEX E1C was able to remove all contaminants and separate our pecan grades in fewer than four passes. This is exceptional, if you compare this to other sorting equipment, which could require up to twelve passes to achieve similar results.” Given the fragile nature of the pecans being handled, the soft landing receptacle, along with the ability of the SORTEX E1C to provide better results in fewer passes, has a significant impact on their final product quality and yield.

The SORTEX E1C can also be utilized for unique applications such as, recovery sorts or reverse sorting. Recovery sorts are conducted to reclaim any good product left in the reject material. The sorter’s unique high-speed ejectors precisely remove even at the highest levels of contamination making it ideal for these types of challenging sorts. “Currently the SORTEX E1C sorter is placed in the most challenging sort location possible since we also have it sorting rejected product with the objective to reclaim good product. A recovery sort can have contamination of over 50%, so I was impressed to see that the SORTEX could effectively accomplish the objective of this particular application.” Mr. Owen explained.

Navarro has found that the SORTEX E1C was developed with “Food Grade” in mind! According to Mr. Owen, “The shell and foreign material removal achieved by the SORTEX E1C well exceeds that of our previous sorting technology. The stainless steel construction of the SORTEX E1C and its open design facilitates cleaning for our operators.” Additionally, the optional heated chutes ensure minimal build-up of oily meal; maximizing hygiene, capacity and productivity.

Performance ranks highly when deciding which optical sorter to buy. However Customer Service is key to ensure maximum uptime and optimum results for years to come. “The machine has done everything it was advertised to do. The service we have received over the last year and a half has been exceptional and we value our relationship with Bühler. Any time questions have been asked, they were answered. The Bühler service team always answer their phones or return my calls promptly.” Explains Mr. Owen.

At Navarro Pecan, success depends upon exceeding customer expectations; continually maintaining and improving operations; and adhering to the highest standards of integrity. With the investment in the SORTEX E1C, Navarro is able to continue to fulfil their stringent performance requirements, increase yield, and bring a welcome boost to productivity to meet the growing market demand for their delicious pecans.



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