By carolemetcalfe

Visar Optical Potato Sorter minimises Labour

Visar Optical Sorter Video - Tong Engineering

Since its UK launch with official distributor Tong Engineering, the Visar Optical Sorter has been awarded most innovative product by the British Carrot Growers Association and has seen its first major installation at family-owned farming business M H Poskitt Ltd in Yorkshire. And now, the fully automated optical sorter can be specified for use on potatoes, in both washed and unwashed conditions.

Due to its intelligent software, which allows the system to automatically and progressively learn which faults are acceptable or not, as it works, the Visar Optical Sorting machine removes the need for tedious adjusting and programming that is often required with other sorting machines, and most importantly, it helps to significantly reduce labour costs whilst improving yield and reducing waste.

“Following the success of Visar’s optical carrot sorter, the potato model brings the same advanced optical sorting technology to the potato grading and handling industry, allowing the machine to achieve a unique and perfect 360 degree image of each and every potato that passes through, offering unrivalled potato sorting capabilities,” explains Edward Tong, Managing Director at Tong Engineering. “Visar’s optical potato sorter is exceptionally accurate and consistent, it allows potato growers and processors to quality sort, grade and weigh crop more efficiently and accurately with one machine, without the need for manual sorting” comments Edward.

Using the same HD colour vision camera as the carrot model , as well as the addition of 360 degree HD infra-red vision, the potato specification Visar can detect even the slightest defects including wireworm damage, rot, blight and scab. After the potato has passed the camera, the machine removes the need for manual sorting through a compressed air ejection system that can separate crop by size, shape or weight through to six exit points. Each exit is cushioned to protect against damage and the sorted crop can then be easily moved on to another handling process or to the supermarket shelf, thanks to the machine’s exceptionally low error rate.

“By detecting crop defaults in a split-second, it allows customers to increase the volumes deemed fit for sale by at least five per cent compared to manual sorting – an impressive increase in a sector where small improvements can make a big difference. With an increase in saleable crop and noticeable reduction in waste, alongside significant savings in manual labour requirements and costs, the Visar Optical Sorting machine can offer a very quick return on investment” added Edward.

Guy Poskitt, Managing Director of M H Poskitt Ltd, where seven fully automated Visar Sortop optical sorters are now sorting over 1000 tons of the company’s carrots each week comments on his new optical sorting line: “The advanced camera system on the Visar allows us to fine-tune grade specifications, ensuring no good crop goes to waste. Where our previous grading systems required a considerable amount of manual sorting and inspection, the new Visar sorters sort crop automatically, ensuring a more consistent and accurately sorted end product. We are seeing a significant increase in the percentage of saleable crop and a much greater consistency in the quality of each grade, resulting in an even better end product for our customers, including leading supermarkets, whilst maximising our yield for other markets too.”

“The Visar has improved our packout, but more importantly, it puts the right crop in the right place, which has enabled us to use the crop more efficiently, ensuring we’re not putting high value product into low value packs and vice versa,” added Mr Poskitt.