Take nearly 70 years of experience, a large portion of customer understanding, and a team of highly motivated Bühler experts from the field of optical sorting and what you get is the most innovative optical rice sorter in the world – the SORTEX S UltraVision. Here is a look behind the scenes of the development effort.

Unprecedented control, Neil Dyer - global product manager
Played a key role in market analysis and deciding final specification, design and style choices.
“As consumer requirements increase, so do the food industry’s demands on optical sorting. The SORTEX S UltraVision has therefore been designed and developed from scratch – specifically to sort rice and only rice. This has enabled us to implement technologies never before seen in the industry, using our experience, since 1947, in the sorting business. The new SORTEX ProSort software gives the user total power and fingertip control over each and every product defect, all from a single screen.”

Decades of development effort, Ben Deefholts – rice specialist
Responsible for initial requirement specification and concept for ease of use.
“We wanted the SORTEX S UltraVision to give customers unprecedented control over the sorter. We ensured that new ideas, such as Textured LED Lighting and proprietary multi-chromatic cameras, would differentiate colors well enough to give customers absolute control over which grains to accept and which to reject. Some of the ideas that informed the design of this sorter took years to develop and came from working with and understanding the rice processing needs of our customers.”

Radically new design, Gabriel Hamid – principal research engineer
Drove the research into new alignment, characterization and classification algorithms.
“Sort consistency is key, because it impacts yield and the quality of the accepted rice. New algorithms were required to improve the consistency of image acquisition, camera characterization and transfer of intelligent modes between individual machines. Each of these challenges was made doubly difficult, because the SORTEX S UltraVision is a radically new design, so relevant empirical data was limited. Researchers Chris Davis, Patrick Lancaster and Jean-Francois Deprez applied standard engineering principles to each of these challenges, to design three new algorithms, specifically for improving sort consistency.”

A whole year counting rice grains, Tony Hug – systems design engineer
Drove the lighting and camera choices and designed the sorting fpgas.
“My task was to conduct initial research and feasibility studies into the best wavelengths, lighting setups and sensor choice to enhance the detection of subtly defective rice grains. I spent a year counting rice grains, in order to produce algorithms to optimize grain ejection. I recorded the different sorting algorithms in a set of specifications. The finished hardware is the result of these with over 900 pages of specification for the sorting board alone. The SORTEX S UltraVision has been created to optimally sort defective rice grains, with proprietary cameras and long-life lighting, allowing perfect detection of subtly discolored grains, small spots, and bran streaks. New ejection algorithms and increased ejector density minimize removal of good grains with the bad. The accelerated calibration and product color tracking system both maximize and maintain consistent system performance.”

Powerful diagnostics tools, James Goldsmith – software team leader
Designer of SPLINT (SORTEX Plant INTerface).
“With our SPLINT remote connection system, we can connect to any SORTEX S UltraVision in the world. At the push of a button, we can see what the customer is seeing and assist them immediately. SPLINT also allows us to create different interfaces for different users. We provide powerful configuration and diagnostics tools for our engineers, which enables us to place the machine’s complexity behind an easy-to-use interface.”

Easy cleaning, set-up and review, Stewart Mills – principal mechanical development engineer
Led development of the new tubular frame concept.
“The SORTEX S UltraVision favors the customer in many ways – better hygiene plus easier cleaning, set-up and review of sorting. Practical, frame components are manufactured from tubular sections, which reduces horizontal surfaces and minimizes ‘bug traps.’ Other important criteria include protection against dust and easy access for cleaning, in order to ensure stable performance between service engineering visits.”

Global support, Stuart Bashford – head of software and hardware development
Led development of the AnywarePro system.
“AnywarePro is based on the same leading-edge design approach, to the remote control of the optical sorter via the user’s web browser. AnywarePro enables customers’ sorting equipment to be remotely monitored, allowing continuous access to online data for optimizing the sorting process, triggering fault alerts and creating system usage statistics. Customers benefit from the identical system features that our global support organization also uses for ongoing system performance analysis and correction of possible faults.”

Rigorous validation program, Eleanor Martin, applications specialist for rice
Technical lead on field validation and application development.
“Introducing such a complex new sorting system means implementing a rigorous validation program, to ensure it meets the high standards expected from the market. Whilst many validation tests are performed in-house, proving the machine in a real production environment is also extremely important. We have worked with some of our key customers to trial the SORTEX S UltraVision in different rice producing regions globally.”

For more information on SORTEX S UltraVision visit www.buhlergroup.com/sortex_s