Optical sorter boosts nut processors volume eight-fold

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Bühler has helped FrankenGeNuss boost volumes eight-fold
Bühler has helped FrankenGeNuss boost volumes eight-fold

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The installation of its first optical sorting machine has boosted FrankenGeNuss’s nut sorting capacity eight-fold in one tenth of the time.

Equipment provider Bühler’s Sortex E1C sorter with BioVision technology was installed by the nut processor in October last year and has helped boost production and tackle shell contamination issues.

Previously it took a day to process 100kg of hazelnuts, now the company can sort 800kg in just 2.5 hours.

Plant manager Martin Stiegler said, “Before investing in an optical sorter, we sorted all of our hazelnuts by hand. Thus, the definition of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ nut becomes subjective with each person sorting the hazelnuts slightly differently.

Uniform quality

“Particularly in the case of shell removal, we wanted to be able to deliver a uniform and consistent quality of hazelnuts to uphold the high quality standards that reflect our brand.”

Since installing the Sortex optical sorter, the amount of shell pieces in a 50kg bag of hazelnuts has dropped from up to 10 pieces to none. In 400kg of product, just one to three pieces could now be found, according to FrankenGeNuss.

Removing the need for manual labour in has allowed the company’s handpicking workers to be re-assigned across various other processing steps within the business.

FrankenGeNuss also cracks its hazelnuts in-house. During this process, depending on the calibration, processors can often find that their nuts break into pieces or halves. These broken pieces are typically pre-sorted with air pressure but because they weigh the same as the undesired fragments of shell it makes it difficult to differentiate between them. As a result, the hazelnut pieces are at risk of being mistakenly being discarded. 

Reducing giveaway

“With the Sortex optical sorter and its simultaneous resort functionality, we have the opportunity to resort our reject again without losing any valuable nuts in the process. This also allows us to adhere to food safety standards and get the most out of our hazelnuts for maximum profits,”​ added Stiegler. 

Established in 2013, FrankenGeNuss employs six people at its plant in Franconia, Germany. Situated on nine hectares of land with more than 1,000 hazelnut trees, it cleans, dries, cracks, separates and processes about 40–50 tonnes of hazelnuts every year.

Its farm shop and online shop offer a wide variety of products including palm oil-free nougat spreads, roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut salt and hazelnut oil.  

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