Buhler feels the competition and responds

The leading manufacturers of sorting equipment are starting to feel competition from Asian suppliers. Bühler moves to stay ahead.

The marrying of Bühler’s SORTEX F optical sorting platform with its BioVision™ technology, originally introduced in 2015, means nut manufacturers ensure hygienic sorting and more precise shell and foreign material detection. SORTEX BioVision™ is a combination of high definition, infrared and shape technology as well as custom-built biochromatic cameras. The Clipper talked to Brian P. Sears of West-Link about the changing picture in the sorting market and the new SORTEX model.

The Clipper: Which competition is more concerning for you? Your longtime European competitors like TOMRA or the emerging competitors from Asia?

Brian P. Sears: “We see both. My company has been selling Buhler machines for over 40 years. The machines that you are seeing from Europe have a better support and service network. We do see Chinese machines. They are out there but it is not a dominant factor because the quality requirements are so high that there is still a preference for established suppliers. Maybe you save some money on a piece of equipment in your processing line, but it might be a short-sighted decision if your machine does not offer the same efficiency and reliability. You get what you pay for. Service is really the most important factor. Even if you sell the best technology it has to run well. The support has to be immediate. We have an expansive service network to help our clients quickly when they need us. If one of our client is not happy because we could not help him immediately it is a serious issue for them.

The Clipper: What are the major trends for sorters in the next years?

Ease of use is extremely important because it is difficult to get someone to operate such high tech machinery. The work force in California is expensive.

The Clipper: Tell us about the new F sorter.

“It is a high capacity sorter. Food safety is really very important for Buhler and the new sorter has an open design that allows for easy-cleaning. It can process different streams simultaneously. We focused on multiple streams in the past and we have a lot of successful installations with simultaneous passes. You could do one pass, a second pass and a resort simultaneously. It is very versatile, you can pass over from walnuts to almonds to pistachios or pecans. The BIOVISION now offer more detection in the visible range with a high-definition spectrum. This is important for insect bites for example. This year in the almond industry we had a lot of issues concerning insect damage. We also detect in the infrared spectrum that is addressing that issue.
Operators will be pleased about the improved ease of access. You can walk into the machine and clean it. Hullers usually have a very dusty work environment. Now it is very easy to blow air to clean the machine.

The user interface has been improved and simplified. In the past you might have had 20 different programs for the different varieties. Now we are able to use only one program that can be adapted to all varieties.

  1. The machine design allows for a better sanitary process. Most of the parts are open on all sides and easy to clean. Spacer brackets allow access to areas that could harbour bacteria.
  2. The SORTEX F sorts up to 3 streams simultaneously. The modular design lets you switch from almonds to walnuts, pistachios and pecans. The SORTEX would even let you run different nuts simultaneously.
  3. The SORTEX employs a variety of cameras (BIOVISION) to detect different defects. Insect damage that has been a major factor in this season can be safely detected as well as a variety of ‚inner‘ qualities of the product.
  4. Equipped with new operating system, SORTEX ProSortX™ for faster processing speeds, efficient operation and ease of use.
    17inch touch-screen for ease of use