L&S Cranberry, a supplier to Ocean Spray Cranberries, looks back on 2013 and talks about the impact its Key Technology Optyx 6000 series sorter and RemoteMD has had on its peak season production.
The agricultural cooperative, farms and packs £8m of fresh cranberries a year, on average, during its four-month season and the Optyx sorter inspects each berry and removes foreign material and defects.
While the RemoteMD monitors the sorter through a portal, looking for problems that need solving and alerting L&S Cranberry and Key technicians if a problem arises.
“With such a short season, it’s difficult to find workers,” said Kevin Connolly, general manager, L&S Cranberry.
“We usually begin every year with new people. Optyx reduces our reliance on labour because it automates sorting, and RemoteMD helps us maintain product quality and line productivity even if the most fully trained person isn’t in the plant.”
The Optyx 6000 series sorter at L&S Cranberry has a combination of colour cameras and lasers that inspect up to £12,000 of fresh cranberries per hour and both companies can access the system remotely to log in and fix any issues to maximize product line productivity.
Increased number of shifts
“We recently went from operating one shift per day to two shifts per day, six days per week so we added the RemoteMD to monitor and access the sorter remotely,” added Connolly.
The cameras analyse each object’s size, shape, and colour, and the lasers detect changes in structural properties, so the Optyx can identify and remove foreign material, defects and soft berries called “poppers” that spoil quickly and affect other berries in the bag.
According to Connolly, he can connect to the sorter from his office or from home, which is helpful during the night shift and at peak performance times if he is away from the plant.
“Prior to having our own packing plant, we shipped our fresh cranberries to an Ocean Spray facility, which had Optyx sorters,” he said.
“Five years ago, we decided we had grown large enough to justify having our own factory and we installed an Optyx sorter because we saw how successful it was at Ocean Spray.”
RemoteMD and Key’s PROliance suite that covers Optyx also comes with a protection plan that includes an online training course that covers hardware, software and user interface.
Connolly admitted with the online programme the company has managed to train more people than before and it didn’t have to spend money on technicians to visit the factory to teach people how to use the equipment.
“Given how short our season is, it’s important we achieve perfect accuracy from the moment we start up in September,” he added.
The RemoteMD, is an analysis tool for G6 optical sorters – Manta, Optyx, and Tegra – as well as G6 ADR Automatic Defect Removal Systems.
Key has three levels of RemoteMD services as part of its protection plan – SelectPRO, PlusPRO, and PremierPRO via annual subscription.
“With RemoteMD we’ve taken the concept of remote diagnostics, which has, until now, been reactive in nature, and made it proactive,” said John Kadinger, programme manager, Key Technology.
“We monitor the customer’s sorter or ADR, looking for conditions that may require corrective action. We automatically alert the customer of the condition change and, when circumstances warrant, we can remotely log in and fix it.”
The basic level of RemoteMD, available as part of the SelectPRO protection plan, includes system monitoring, alarms for critical events, remote diagnosis, remote fixes, and software management.
Additional RemoteMD services such as remote auditing, remote backups, proactive log analysis, product metrics tracking, and segmentation assistance are available as part of PlusPRO or PremierPRO.