January 2015 Issue of Wines & Vines

Optical Sorters

The best and most accurate grape-sorting equipment on the market, optical sorters employ high-speed cameras and image-processing software to quickly scan and sort destemmed grapes.

by Andrew Adams

Bucher Vaslin offers two optical sorting models: the Delta Vistalys R1 for smaller wineries and the R2 for larger operations. Both employ a high-speed camera shooting at 1,000 frames per second with 10 billion-pixel resolution and LED lighting to illuminate the grapes without heating them. The unit’s control panel features 10 sorting programs that can be modified while the machine is sorting. Both Vistalys units operate with the same technology, but the R1 is a gravity-fed machine with an optimized throughput of 3 tons per hour, while the R2 is a belt-fed sorter that can handle up to 12 tons per hour. The R2 has water and air hookups to clean the belt while the unit is in operation. Price: The R1 costs $90,000, and the R2 is $180,000.

Italian manufacturer Protec’s X-Tri machines are distributed through Valley Pipe & Supply. The machine features three cameras that scan grapes with visible and infrared light seeking unripe grapes and vegetative material. By using a near-infrared camera, the unit can detect chlorophyll that is present in most MOG as well as unripe fruit. By looking for rejects, the supplier claims the machine does not need to “re-learn” how to sort when switching between varieties or vineyard. The machine’s software can also be updated wirelessly from the manufacturer in Italy to ensure its accuracy as well as troubleshot. Protec produces three models that can sort 5, 10 and 15 tons per hour and range in price from $145,000 to $200,000.

WECO Sorting and Automation updated its optical sorter in 2013 to include LED lights with a controlled depth of field and full color spectrum to spot and remove MOG. The machine is designed to be easy to clean and sanitize, and mechanical scrapers underneath the 32-inch belt keep it clean during operation. The unit can sort 3 to 5 tons per hour and be set to several sorting programs for specific grape varieties. WECO produces all of its mechanical equipment as well as the cameras and sorting technology in its own shop in Woodland, Calif. Price: $71,500.

Pellenc’s Selectiv’ Process Vision 2 employs a shaker and channel system to eliminate large MOG from the grapes, which then travel along a conveyor to the sorting unit. An operator can adjust the sorter to eliminate material of certain size while also monitoring flow, ejection rate and other functions. The machine can sort 2,000 pieces of material per second and process up to 12 tons per hour.
Price: $110,000-$135,000.

Key Technology’s Vitisort machine features a mechanical MOG-sorting machine and juice-recovery system along with its optical sorter. The machine features a vibratory stainless steel in-feed conveyor rather than a belt conveyor for quick and easy cleaning and sanitizing. The touch-screen display is designed to enable a user to “set it and forget it” during sorting.
Price: $75,000.

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