LONDON, ENGLAND — Bühler received on Sept. 12 the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its optical sorting technology.

“This breakthrough technology will make the difference for us in the market for years to come,” said Johannes Wick, Bühler Group’s chief executive officer for Grains & Food. “What is now in reach are applications to grade raw materials for composition and to remove invisible contaminations. This will be a major contribution to provide healthy and safe nutrition around the world.”

The Queen’s Award is the highest award for British businesses, which have excelled in the fields of international trade, sustainable development, or innovation.

This is the seventh Queen’s Award Bühler UK has won since 1968. This year’s win is in recognition of Bühler’s development of a unique camera technology used in sorting machines, capable of recognizing the subtlest of color and shading contrasts in materials and foods, thereby significantly increasing detection rates for foreign materials, potential choke hazards, or contaminated foods.

“Bühler are old hands at receiving these awards,” said John Barber, representative of Her Majesty The Queen. “After my first visit to the factory I could see why they have been constant winners. They have such a high standard of skills and technology, and are leaders in being good employers, as well as producing such high-quality products.”

He handed the award to Bühler’s Timothy Kelf, head of sensor development.

“The fact that we have been so successful in a number of different market segments with this technology shows the strength and depth of our capabilities in cutting-edge technologies,” said Kelf, who received the Queen’s Award together with senior research engineer Ben Deefholts. With their team, both have been instrumental in bringing this innovation to the market.

The technology is being used by food producers in Europe and the United States. They report an increase in detection rates of foreign materials by 10%, from 85% to 95%. A single Sortex optical sorter can control up to 150,000 single grains or 15,000 peas per second with a capacity of 12 tons per hour, securing highest food standards.

 One of the criteria for a Queen’s Award is that the technology should not just be innovative, but has to be scalable, commercially viable, and to have resulted in a material improvement to a commercial process.

Since the introduction of the Sortex E optical sorter using BioVision technology, sales of Bühler sorting solutions into the nut sector have doubled, the company said.