There is an overwhelming need in modern industry for the ability to categorize and sort products.
Fast, accurate sorting is the key to optimizing your factory’s money-making potential!
The answer to this need is automated sorting.
Sorting by hand is a tedious and slow process, and particularly ineffective when you need to sort based on several different criteria.
On the other hand, automated sorting systems can integrate several different checks and tests into one seamless process.
This shows itself especially in the meat production industry.
One system that we installed used a scale to weigh the meat and a camera to examine the color (“redness”) of the meat and classified them into different routes.
A human doing the same thing would take quite a bit longer and have to worry about opinions on color classification.
A sortation system usually consists of a conveyor with multiple automated tests(sometimes human grading for different cuts is in the mix). The computer of the system processes the information from these tests and sends it to a specific divert which guides the product to its intended path based on classification.
These systems can be made to handle numerous diverts and product paths. We have made systems that handle dozens of different classifications and that accommodate many different criteria.
They also are easy to integrate with our scale, conveyor, and grading technologies.
Often we are asked to make a customized version of our standard equipment to meet the customer’s needs. These systems are capable of an amazing range of different processes.
From a fish processing system that weighs them at 2,700 per hour to a system that takes random-sized cheese chunks and fills boxes to ten pounds with incredible efficiency, the possibilities are truly endless!
If you handle products of variety of weight, size, shape, color, etc.that need to be organized quickly and efficiently, but can’t (or don’t want to) employ an entire assembly line full of workers to do the task, then our custom sortation technologies should fit the bill. Ask us how we can assist your in your application today!
Sorting is a necessity for plants that need to classify their products, but it is commonly difficult to create a reliable, efficient sortation system.
Grading and Sorting System
We are dedicated to making this process as simple as possible for the customer!
In combination with our in-motion conveyor scale technology, we are able to spec and design sortation systems from the ground up that can handle whatever product and throughput that you send their way.
Our sorting systems have been industry-proven for a variety of products.
They can handle everything from meat and cheese products in the food industry to packages in a shipping environment, but that is just a taste of what these systems could be capable of.
We employ the use of many different diverts selected to guide your product quickly and accurately to its intended location.
Our sorting systems can incorporate anything from a small handful of categories to dozens.
The sky is the limit when it comes to sorting options!
Hand sorting can be completely eliminated with a good sortation system, potentially saving hundreds or tens of thousands of labor dollars per year!
The accuracy of an automated sortation system trumps hand sorting as well, eliminating costly errors.
With years of industry experience under our belt, our team knows that each one of our customers is unique and has specific plant needs.
We strive to work closely with you to create a custom solution that brings out your plant’s potential best.
When designing a sortation and classifying system, it is important to keep the safety and stability of your product in mind at all times.
Products can be damaged if a sortation system isn’t designed with the right features to match them.
Rough handling of product is one of the biggest downfalls for a poorly designed system, but it is also rather difficult to eliminate entirely because of the system’s machine-like nature.
Many products can handle a little roughness, but some require highly refined systems.
Let’s look at some examples of products that we have designed for that have required a little extra something.
Imagine a system transporting apples or eggs in open containers.
A system that does something like this requires that you have very precise, smooth divert action.
You can’t have too much power driving the divert or it will fling the product out of the container.
Since we use a lot of pneumatic systems, we always make sure that the air output is appropriately calibrated so divert impact is minimized.
Some products are stubborn and like to stick to things like conveyor belts.
These sometimes require a little extra “elbow grease” when being sorted.
In one case where we were dealing with a sticky product, we adapted the sorting conveyor so that it was at an angle.
The scale itself stayed horizontal, but the conveyor itself was mounted at a small angle (10-20 degrees) so that gravity could assist the divert in guiding product off of the belt.
This allows the product to roll off of the conveyor so it isn’t resisting the divert or getting stuck between the divert and conveyor.
Speaking of getting stuck, since there is a minuscule gap between the diverts and the conveyor, certain products can work themselves underneath pull-off diverts and get stuck, jamming up the system essentially.
To address this with those products, we have installed a suspension that allows the divert to pivot upward allowing the wedged products to pass through.
This is almost like your sink cleaning itself when the drain gets clogged. Not many people have done anything like that.
These are just some examples of the variety of problems that a sortation system can overcome.
If you need sorting or are having problems with a current sortation system contact us for sorting and classifying that you can trust.
Most automated systems are purchased with the intention of eliminating labor costs from your business model, but there are some places where the human factor is still invaluable.
This is particularly evident in the grading of meats in a processing plant.
There are newer technologies that allow cameras to detect differences in meat color and size, but there are quantities of measurement that humans still tend to do better with.
Meat grading is often done through human input because it classifies the meat based off of non-numerical qualities.
A common one that we run into is a comparison of fat vs. lean or a difference between various cuts of meat.
It really requires human judgement to tell the difference upon inspection, but there are ways to improve this side of the process too.
Grading systems must be made with the human user in mind.
They are designed to optimize operator productivity and decrease costly operator errors.
We make use of intuitive touchscreen systems that are clearly labeled and are built tough for plant functionality.
Controls should be plainly designed and labeled so that the system is easy for the operator to understand and doesn’t require extra training.
The more distinction between user options, the better.
Grading and Sorting System
Due to the nature of a grading system, they are often paired very closely with a sortation system.
The user inputs the grade, which determines the appropriate divert that will send that product to its intended location.
A grading system is especially handy when paired with a sortation system that makes use of a conveyor scale.
The data systems that manage sortation are capable of handling multiple sorting criteria, so different weight ranges can be assigned to different cuts of meat.
The combination of these systems really maximizes your sorting options and is especially helpful to those that deal with a multitude of product shapes and sizes.
You may not be able to make your processing plant totally autonomous, but you can improve your employee interface to make sure that that you are getting the most out of your labor.
We have worked closely with our customers to come up with the best human interfaces on the market.
In today’s high production pork facilities, it is necessary to sort or classify sub primal cuts by high speed automation. Typically bellies, hams, loins and ribs can be sorted by grade, size or most commonly by weight.
This can be achieved by an automatic sorting system. Equipment for the food grade classifier is a stainless/steel in-feed pace conveyor, in-motion scale (with indicator), controller, out feed divert conveyor. The high speed process works off of this principle.
Adequate spacing of dedicated product should be made up stream of the classifying system, a pace conveyor will help pull the necessary gap to be achieved. The in-motion scale weighs the product and sends the signal from the indicator to the controller that has predetermined ranges.
The controller calculates the proper divert for the product coming off the in-motion scale.
Rib Classification System
This is all done with special software, sets of I/O, PEC, cables & air solenoids. The out feed conveyor from the in-motion scale can vary in size and length due to the product parameters. Type of diverts commonly used are divert arm, pusher & pop-up conveyor. The type and number of diverts will depend on customer requirements.
Duplicate diverts can be set for the same weight range to handle higher volume weights to allow for continuous sorting.
High speed sortation/classifying of bellies, hams, loins and ribs are vital part in pork production now and will be for the foreseeable future.