SORTEX F Series line reduces almond defects by 30% with just one pass for US huller processor
USA , Jun 28, 2021
Intake, sorting and sizing takes place on Harris Woolf’s high-speed SORTEX line, which delivers products ready for export.
Insect damage, foreign material, and other defects must be removed during the cleaning stage before the almonds reach the packing line. After hulling, the kernels (i.e. natural almonds) are forwarded to the processing stage, where the multistage, multi-pass systems of the four FB2 machines comes into play, through which 30.000lbs/15 tons of almonds pass each hour. A fifth SORTEX FB2 is then employed to clean up any reject material.
Harris Woolf also employs a standalone SORTEX FB2 for preparing the in-shell almonds for export. This machine gets products “pack ready” in one pass and has led to increased in-shell packaging throughputs as the product requires less sorting during packing.
“In one process we can clean our almonds and then they’re sized and packaged. A process that used to have multiple cleaning steps now has just one, which saves a lot of time and effort,” Carter states.
He goes on to reveal that Harris Woolf has been able to increase its processing speed massively. “We ran 70m lbs of almonds this year, which used to take us 8-10 months, but now it takes only 5-6 months. The process has been streamlined significantly. We’ve increased our cleaning and sizing throughput from 12.000 lbs to 30.000 lbs per hour.”
Bühler SORTEX’s reputation; their system was more technically advanced; it had a more open design, which is better for hygiene; the cameras; the robust user interface was easier for our operators to use. “The support staff have been really helpful, too, especially from Bühler’s facility in Stockton [east of San Francisco]. Equipment is only as good as the support you receive on the ground. During various training sessions, we’ve got to know the Stockton team very well and have built up a great relationship with them.
Tom Carter , Harris Woolf Coalinga Plant Manager
“Our average defects are now 0.02% foreign material and 0.62% serious damage, which is roughly a 30% improvement over previous sorters we’ve used. This cleaner material has allowed us to increase our packing line production by 40%,” Carter mentions.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the company’s investment in technology has enabled staff to adhere to social distancing regulations whilst continuing full operation of the packing line. “Operationally, we had logistics issues with ports closing, but overall, business has remained strong, in fact, demand for almonds has increased!” he concludes.