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Key Technology Introduces New Integrated Sorting System That Transforms Green Bean Processing
Integrated sorting system for pre-snipped green beans from Key Technology
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Integrated sorting system for pre-snipped green beans from Key Technology
Rendering of Key's new concept for sorting green beans prior to snipping
Download hi-res photo
Rendering of Key's new concept for sorting green beans prior to snipping

February 25, 2020 – Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, introduces a unique new concept for sorting green beans prior to snipping. This innovative solution removes foreign material (FM) and separates easy-to-snip green beans from hard-to-snip green beans to improve snipping efficiency. Specifically designed for this new insertion point, Key’s integrated sorting system for pre-snipped green beans improves case recovery to reduce the processor’s cost per ton, while also producing more consistent product quality with less equipment in the downstream process.

“Processors of frozen and canned green beans have razor-thin margins. They want to lower costs while maintaining their product quality. That’s the challenge we set out to solve here,” said Mark Roedl, Area Sales Manager at Key. “We applied our expertise in green bean processing and came up with a new idea – a different way to process green beans. This integrated sorting system is installed upstream of where digital sorters have always been on these lines, and it’s a game changer. Early adopters are achieving impressive results that warrant the investment.”

The integrated system combines Key’s Iso-Flo® shakers, a Rotary Size Grader (RSG) and a VERYX® digital sorter to separate incoming product into four streams. Two streams go to waste and two ‘accept’ streams lead to further processing. One ‘accept’ stream is dedicated to green beans that are difficult to snip, which go to downstream equipment that is optimized to snip this type of product. The other ‘accept’ stream takes field-snipped and easy-to-snip green beans and leads to downstream systems designed specifically to handle these green beans.

Prior to this development, green bean processors have not separated incoming product into streams – instead, everything has been sent in one mass flow to the rotary snippers after upstream pre-cleaning equipment. When hard-to-snip green beans are comingled with easy-to-snip green beans, downstream systems are set to handle the hard-to-snip beans. When easy-to-snip green beans are aggressively snipped, good product is lost. Also, when snippers get FM, it’s cut into smaller pieces, which exacerbates contamination.  

Now, with Key’s new VERYX integrated sorting system, processors are separating hard-to-snip green beans from easy-to-snip green beans to improve snipping efficiency, which increases case recovery and reduces the cost per case. Also, by removing FM and other plant waste before the snippers, product quality improves. All this is done with less equipment than has traditionally been required, which simplifies processes and frees up floor space.

First, an Iso-Flo shaker evenly feeds the RSG, which sizes by length and diameter to remove short and thin green beans as well as other small objects such as insects, corn cob pieces and seeds. Next, an Iso-Flo shaker feeds VERYX, spreading product for presentation to the inspection system to maximize sort accuracy. This VERYX is equipped with top-mounted Pixel Fusion™ cameras and laser sensors to detect the color, size, shape and structural property of objects. It features three-way sorting, with the ‘reject’ stream ejecting FM such as corn cob, corn root, frogs, mice and plant stem material as well as color defects and other waste. Hard-to-snip and easy-to-snip green beans are separated to optimize snipping downstream. After VERYX, Iso-Flo collection shakers begin conveying each stream to its next step. The integrated system is available in various widths to satisfy a range of capacity requirements.

Viewing product entirely in-air, VERYX is ideal for products with challenging shapes, such as green beans. LED lighting all around the line of sight minimizes shadows. Positioning the sorter’s sensors and background away from product splatter sustains accurate inspection throughout long production cycles without operator intervention. Key’s mechanical product handling systems also enhance sanitation with open designs, fully-welded frames, stainless steel bed surfaces, oil-free drives and more.   

VERYX features recipe-driven operation to ease use and achieve consistence performance day in and day out, regardless of personnel changes and across multiple lines and locations. Next-generation 4-channel cameras and high resolution laser scanners offer twice the resolution of previous sensor technology to find smaller FM and defects. Key’s unique Pixel Fusion technology combines pixel-level input from multiple cameras and laser sensors, producing higher contrasts to find the most difficult-to-detect FM and defects. Object-based recognition facilitates advanced shape sorting algorithms as well as intelligent ejection to maximize sort accuracy and minimize false rejects.

VERYX is equipped with Key’s powerful Information Analytics software, which allows users to analyze and share data across their enterprise via an OPCUA-compliant infrastructure. Data about the sort process and about each and every object flowing through the sorter, whether the data is used to make sort decisions or not, is available to reveal patterns, trends and associations to optimize processes upstream and downstream of the sorter.

Key manufactures VERYX in both the U.S. and Europe and supports customers worldwide through its global sales and service network. For more information on VERYX, visit www.key.net/products/veryx.

About Key Technology, Inc.
Key Technology is a global leader in the design and manufacture of automation systems including digital sorters, conveyors and other processing equipment. Applying processing knowledge and application expertise, Key helps customers in the food processing and other industries improve quality, increase yield, and reduce cost.  Key manufactures its products at its headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington, USA; Beusichem, the Netherlands; Hasselt, Belgium; and Redmond, Oregon, USA. Key’s domestic facilities are certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard. Key offers customer demonstration and testing services at five locations including Walla Walla, Beusichem, and Hasselt as well as Sacramento, California, USA and Melbourne, Australia; and maintains a sales and service office in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico. Key is a Duravant Company.

About Duravant
Headquartered in Downers Grove, IL, Duravant is a global engineered equipment company with manufacturing, sales and service facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Through their portfolio of operating companies, Duravant delivers trusted end-to-end process solutions for customers and partners through engineering and integration expertise, project management and operational excellence. With worldwide sales distribution and service networks, they provide immediate and lifetime aftermarket support to all the markets they serve in the food processing, packaging and material handling sectors. Duravant’s market-leading brands are synonymous with innovation, durability and reliability. Visit www.duravant.com.

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