Curt Maberry Farm was looking to remove the foreign material and defects, such as mold in raspberries or stems in blueberries, color blemishes or damaged items Buhler Maberry Farmfrom its products prior to packing. It was also looking to automate this part of the process in order to free up pickers on the line for deployment elsewhere in the facility. That’s why the Lynden, Wash.-producer of individual quick-frozen fruit products selected Buhler’s state-of-the-art SORTEX optical sorting technology.

John Reneau, production manager at Curt Maberry Farm, turned to Bühler, who had installed its demonstration SORTEX E1D optical sorter at the plant at the end of last year. Drawing on three powerful technologies—color bichromatic cameras, enhanced InGaAs and PROfile (shape) technology—the SORTEX E1D allowed Curt Maberry to detect and remove foreign materials, such as leaves, stems and mold, as well as over and undersized product.

“A major problem for frozen raspberry processors is the fragility of the product once frozen,” says Stephen Jacobs, Bühler’s fruit and vegetable global product manager. “Depending on the variety, fruit breakage levels can be as high as 10% going through standard sorting equipment.”

Bühler tackled this challenge with the development of a special soft landing kit, which together with Bühler’s existing technologies, enables frozen fruit processors to achieve clean acceptable product with breakage levels of less than 3%.

After the successful trials of the SORTEX E1D in plant, Reneau opted to invest in a SORTEX K2A, which is also equipped with the new soft landing system, ensuring that Curt Maberry’s fragile raspberries and blueberries remain intact throughout the sorting process. The SORTEX K2A features easy-to-operate sensitivity controls.

“The SORTEX K2A is doing an excellent job on quality sorting, and we are very pleased with its performance,” says Reneau.