Key Technology expands the value of digital sorting with information analytics

Key Technology has announced the availability of Information Analytics, a powerful suite of software capabilities embedded within Key’s digital sorters. Enabling the collection, analysis, and sharing of data across the food processor’s enterprise, this intelligence is tailored to meet the specific needs of each customer. Information Analytics helps processors better manage their operations to produce their desired product quality while increasing yields and reducing costs.
“Information Analytics is the next wave in digital sorting. The trend got started with the most technologically sophisticated customers and it’s now catching on with others. With it, we’re using digital sorters to sort while simultaneously using them to do so much more,” said Marco Azzaretti, advanced inspection systems product manager at Key Technology. “We’re turning data into knowledge that can be acted on to optimise processes. By delivering better intelligence, we’re giving food processors new ways to maximise their competitive edge.”
Key’s Information Analytics can be harnessed to better manage raw materials and optimise processes upstream and downstream of the sorter, in addition to improving the sorter’s accept/reject decisions.
Three aspects are customised to meet the needs of each food processor – data collection, information analysis, and data sharing. The flexibility of the system enables Key to design each sorter to collect, analyse, and share the data in a manner that maximises the value to each customer.
Equipped with Key’s Information Analytics, the sorter continuously collects and stores a variety of information about the sort process and the product flowing through the sorter, whether that data is used to make sort decisions or not. Data could include the objects’ dimensions, color and other image information, good product characteristics, defects and foreign material (FM) details, every aspect of the sorting operation such as detection activity of specific defect categories, ejection activity, and more.
The sorter can leverage its powerful analytical capabilities to process the collected data in order to drive more intelligent sort operations, and/or generate custom, configurable statistical reports. 
The flexibility of Key’s sorters to easily connect with networks and other plant equipment facilitates data sharing. Data can flow directly from the sorter to the food processor’s SCADA system as well as upstream and/or downstream equipment, thanks to the sorters’ OPC-compliant infrastructure. Additionally, the sorter can send statistical information to databases or CSV files, which can then be accessed, manipulated, and used in a variety of ways. Key’s sorters can be integrated with web browsers, Ethernet/IP and Modbus devices, and/or any brand of PLC and protocol for reporting and/or remote management purposes.
“There are as many examples of how Information Analytics can be used to improve operations as there are food processors, because each customer has a unique situation,” added Azzaretti. Processors can use Information Analytics to analyse the quality of incoming product by lot or by supplier to develop a payment scheme that rewards higher quality. It can be predictive, sending a smart alarm in real time if certain conditions are trending in a problematic direction. Comparing data, either before and after a transformational process or comparing one line to another or combining data from multiple lines and comparing it to another facility, can produce insights that help managers maintain their product quality and increase yields.
Processors of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, potato products, nuts, snack foods, confections, seafood, coffee, wine grapes, and other products can identify their data of interest and work with Key to customise Information Analytics to meet their needs.

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