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Louisville Pecan proves that a dollar saved is a dollar earned

13.06.2008 Reverse sorting with Buhler’s SORTEX Z+ provides healthy yields for pecan processor. What Homer and Rhonda Henson, who head Louisville Pecan Co. Inc., don’t know about pecans could be engraved on a nut shell. So their decision to install the latest Buhler SORTEX Z+ single module sorter is one that is attracting keen industry interest.

What has to be reconciled, says Mr. Henson, is the complexity of product recovery with the exceptionally high value of a small volume of product.

“We use the SORTEX Z+ to sort high value half pecans and brokens of all sizes from granule through mammoth halves. It’s particularly effective in shell removal and we have managed to achieve 99.8% success by a combination of high resolution infrared sensors and ejectors.”

A technique that is especially effective, and which the SORTEX Z+ is able to apply comfortably, is the reverse sort. Where shell contamination is high – say 90% – the SORTEX Z+ is able to reverse its action to accept shell and reject meat. This is a singularly elegant solution when re-sorting the reject element from pecan nuts.

Mr. Henson finds that the reverse sorting process increases the yield by allowing him to reclaim quality pecans that would otherwise be discarded. Consequently, there is a significant reduction in the volume that has to be floated. This contributes significantly to the company’s bottom line through a combination of greatly reduced product loss and operating costs.

Intact, unbroken pecan halves carry a premium so anything that minimizes breakages increases profitability directly. “The SORTEX Z+ soft landing kit makes a real difference,” says Mr. Henson. “It decelerates the pecan prior to landing.”

If it all sounds complicated, be assured that it isn’t. “In my experience, it takes just seconds to set up a size change in a new batch of pecans. The operator simply selects the pre-defined mode then checks the product, and nothing else – such as changing the chute – is necessary. Nothing could be easier.”

Louisville Pecan, like Buhler Sortex, has recently celebrated its 60th year in business. From its Alabama base it sources the very best pecans throughout the south eastern United States to meet a rapidly expanding demand for its natural pecans and a growing range of popular confectionery lines.

“Our new SORTEX Z+ has replaced an earlier SORTEX sorter that has given exceptional service for 30 odd years,” says Mr. Henson. “We are thinking of adding another and the trust we have built over the years with Buhler Sortex triggered our recent decision to hold an open day here to help bring the SORTEX Z+ to a wider audience.”

Note to editors:

Buhler’s business unit Buhler Sortex developed the first sorters for the agricultural industry and it is now the world’s leading manufacturer of optical sorting machines. Its clients, in over 140 countries, are involved in every type of agricultural commodity; fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, coffee & tea, beans & pulses as well as snack foods, confectionery, breakfast cereals and non food products such as plastics. They rely on Buhler Sortex to enable them to meet consumer quality demands, safeguard their brand image and increase their revenues. Buhler Sortex do this by adding value and guaranteeing consistent, high quality produce.

SORTEX Z+ optical sorters are available in one, two and three chute versions with capacities that range from 1,000 Ibs to 12,000 Ibs per hour to suit the requirements of each pecan processor. The advanced technologies employed recognise and eliminate colour defects, unwanted shells, embedded shells, adhering hull, shrivelled and rotten nuts and foreign material such as stones, sticks, wood, glass and plastics, with an efficiency that minimizes waste while delivering the highest yields, within a very small footprint.