By Mr. Gurinder S. Rance*

We all know that COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 had a deep impact on the Indian economy and industry, but there is a hope and opportunity that  food processing business, will probably be the first to not only fully recover, but will do better than before.

Admittedly, it will go through changes which will become its long term routine which will stay and we shall have to adapt to this new normal. The rules on food safety are being tightened worldwide and consumers have also become more demanding

With more and more people putting their faith in packaged or ready to serve food, it has become even more important to live up to the expectations of the consumer or suffer a complete wipe-out of even the best established brands, in case ever any contaminated food reaches a client.

It has been the objective of responsible food processing firms to optimize their sorting process; to detect as many foreign materials and defects as possible and without unnecessarily removing good products

Most raw materials contain some components which are inedible or have variable physical characteristics. Manual sorting that is mostly done by human labour is no longer an option.

With migrant labour vary of coming back to cities; there might be a shortage of labour. Those who return might be commuting and living in close proximity with other labour thus the possibility of risk of spreading the virus. Risks of contamination at work places due to human touch,thus are very obvious. Thus time has come to make “Dark Factories” wherein there is minimum of labour used especially during the processing phase.

In such a scenario, besides other stages, the industry must aggressively remove foreign matter (FM) not only what comes along with raw material but also unwanted material after the process of de-hulling, de-shelling, trimming and destemming with the useof mechanical  screening/metal detection  as well as Optical / Laser sorters.

Unfortunately, you cannot control the condition of the raw material, as no two seasons are the same. However, you do want to offer consistent quality to your customers and an efficient industry recognizes that it’s important to optimize your sorting process: to detect as many foreign materials and defects as possible, and quickly too.

To achieve this efficiency, Optical sorting technology was first considered in the 1930s for the sorting of agricultural produces like fruits and vegetables. In subsequent years  new and improved sorting mechanisms were developed for the removal of product defects and foreign materials based on bulk density, colour, texture, size, shape, structural properties by the use of lasers, UV, and IR spectrum  cameras, Laser-camera combination and software-driven intelligence to help achieve the unsullied quality final product.

In this regard, Optimum NV of Belgium was founded in July 2017 that brought together the latest technology and a blend of the best options in optical sorting machines using sophisticated camera and laser technology, with a focus on all kinds of food products such as potato, French fries, carrots, sweets and seafood like crustaceans and shellfish. In addition, the systems are also used for some non-food applications, such as the optical inspection of tobacco products and plastics.

The FOCUS may be used on a stream of fresh, dried or frozen potato products, vegetables or fruit products, and also crustaceans and shellfish.

But that’s not all: the FOCUS model may be expanded with a unique camera configuration, specially developed for the sorting of French fries. The additional cameras are arranged in such a way that five of the six sides of each French fry are always shown perpendicularly.

The NEXUS has an innovative, controlled product feed, which is able to adapt to the size of your product. A feed belt ensures that the products reach the inspection and ejection area at the same speed. This controlled product supply and internal resorting stream increase the certainty with which good and bad products are detected and ejected. You see this reflected in the quality of your good product and the optimal good-to-bad ratio.

The VENTUS may be equipped with up to 16 lasers (and 32 laser detectors). Thanks to the combination of different lasers with specific wavelengths, the VENTUS is able to sort extremely accurately on the basis of color, shape, structure and biological characteristics. Fluorescence lasers detect the chlorophyll content or the presence of harmful substances such as aflatoxin in nuts and dried fruits.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost everything, that’s why we are taking even our remote service to the next level, so you can continue to count on us.

So if you want to sort optimally, want to  deliver the highest possible quality, but not at the expense of your yield – then use the latest technology, sophisticated camera and laser technology –  choose Optimum Sorting for reliability and service support.

Thus a great responsibility of building back the economy and strengthening the nation rests upon the Indian Food Processing Industry and we at KIRON FOOD PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES LLP are here to support this mission.

 * Autgor is Marketing Director in Kiron Food Processing Technologies LLP

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