May 08, 2015

08/05/2015: Colour at first sight David Thompson, Cimbria UK

First published in Milling and Grain, March 2015


The changing requirements of our modern world have encouraged advances in technology for the development of Optical Sorting equipment. Traditional colour sorters for separating impurities from grains and commodities using monochromatic cameras are still used today but due to the advances in Optical Sorting equipment they are not only able to operate successfully on Grains but also in the recycling industry and for use with finished food products. The needs of these industries and the ever tightening human food standards have driven the requirements for greater efficiencies in identifying impurities. With the use of camera and software capability able to work beyond the light spectrum of the human eye, we can now identify impurities with similar colours, textures and shapes.
This technology for which the highest sorting accuracy is required means that impurities in grain such as fusariums, elements containing gluten sorted from gluten-free cereals (maize, rice, buckwheat) and previously difficult separations like prime Wheat from Barley and vice versa are now possible. Non food products such as plastics, metals and glass can be purified sufficiently for use as the raw material once again to be re-used in manufacturing processes.
SEA have been at the forefront of this development in grain and recycling sectors for well over 40 years at their manufacturing base near Imola, Italy. Their colour sorters were first imported into the UK in the 1990’s initially into the waste and recycling industries and by 2004 the company, All Controls based near Cambridge, took on the UK business setting up a sales and support infrastructure for their customers. For some time Cimbria had been looking for a partner in the Colour Sorting world to compliment their considerable range of grain processing equipment and in 2011 they purchased SEA. The business has flourished in England with Cimbria UK’s knowledge of the grain and seed industry there are already several seed plants and commercial grain facilities using Cimbria SEA optical sorting equipment.
Demand for colour sorting equipment continues to rise as an ever increasing number of standards are tightened and customers respond by installing colour sorting equipment as a necessary part of seed and grain processing plants today. Cimbria UK has been working with these companies to satisfy their needs for higher standards.
The first Cimbria SEA colour sorter supplied into the UK agricultural/food sector was a Pixel Next 5 MR+MR complete with the InGaAs cameras with a 4+1 channel layout. The colour sorter was commissioned in August 2013 and has been used to remove ergot from cereals running in standard set up and when using the InGaAs cameras they have been able to separate wheat from barley and barley from wheat.

Cimbria SEA have recently launched the SEA Chrome optical sorter, available from 1 to 7 chutes, to satisfy any production capacity, equipped with high resolution full color RGB trichromatic cameras which, combined with HIS software system, allow a near human eye vision color sorting technology. The SEA Chrome can also be equipped with NIR and InGaAs cameras available for texture and shape sizing function integrated into the system, to sort impurities according to their geometric characteristics.
The hardware system is organised with easily replaceable electronic boards, using the ultimate SMD and FBGA technologies. Self control functions (auto diagnostics and auto calibration) ensure excellent operational stability. LED lighting and background systems, exclusively designed for Cimbria SEA sorting machines, allow the most precise focusing of the beam on the inspection line.
Program settings and adjustments are performed through user friendly software, which displays the real image picture directly on the sorter touch screen, to help identify the defective elements for sorting out.

SEA Chrome represents the state of the art optical sorting technology, which is able to match the increasingly stringent requirements of the food commodities and seed industries, with the ability to detect and reject products having a similar color but with different shades ensuring that safety, and purity requirements are met.

Read the magazine HERE.

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