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New optical sorter for lettuce industry

09 January 2015

Product sorting specialist Tomra has introduced a cost-effective pre-sorting machine for the baby leaf lettuce and spinach industry.

The new Falcon sorter offers fast and efficient detection and removal of gross defects at the earliest stage immediately after harvesting, enabling sorters and other equipment further down the line to operate at higher efficiency rates in order to deliver a final product of outstanding high quality.

The machine uses high resolution cameras and LED lighting to detect even the slightest differences in the produce’s structure or chlorophyll level.  It can spot a wide range of contaminants including droppings, rodents, bugs, plastic, wood, soil clumps and stones, creating a much more uniform product for further processing.

The Falcon features a special infeed shaker to spread the produce evenly on a high speed acceleration infeed belt which then guides the leaves to the inspection zone.     The produce is inspected ‘in-flight’ which ensures a thorough and high precision analysis unaffected by a potentially dirty belt.  Immediately afterwards, all foreign materials, including heavy items, are removed by high speed ejection fingers to the rejection zone while the good produce continues its flow.  This highly-accurate system minimises false rejects.

The open design of the Falcon, with the frame and belt specifically developed for the baby leaf and spinach industry, facilitates machine cleaning, sanitation and maintenance.

It incorporates a user-friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) with special Set & Sort software, providing ease of set up, quality control and production feedback, and meaning the machine does not require monitoring all the time.

Equally important, the Falcon’s compact dimensions enable it to be integrated easily into existing production lines.  In addition, Tomra’s PAX system allows customers and service engineers to access the machine settings remotely from anywhere in the world.

“The Falcon answers an important requirement in the baby leaf salad and spinach market,” comments Roel Molenaers, Product Manager, at Tomra Sorting Solutions.

“It combines high capacity, ease of use and low maintenance to offer low cost of ownership while helping producers maximise product quality and production efficiencies.”

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