How Color Sorter Machines Work: Fundamental Principles

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color sorter machine in food production

In the manufacturing industry, a color sorter machine is indispensable to everyday operations. Also known as optical sorting machines, these machines first inspect raw material for imperfections and contaminants. Then, they remove impurities and foreign material, leaving only products of the best purity and quality.

Color sorters eliminate the need for manual sorting, which is time-consuming and highly inefficient compared to automated color sorting. The most common application is agricultural products, although many business owners leverage this labor-saving process for other bulk products.

TDI Packsys is a trusted source for state-of-the-art automation and inspection systems, providing comprehensive solutions for our clients. Our goal is to help you successfully manage your bottom line while elevating performance and lowering costs. Our color sorter machines provide a seamless workflow and improve productivity while eliminating costly errors and slow, outdated processes.

Keep reading to learn more about the basics of automated color sorting and shape sizing and to explore the features of our sorting technology range.

How Do Color Sorter Machines Work?

A color sorter utilizes innovative technology to identify the characteristics of raw material going through its feeding hopper as part of a bulk processing line. First, the operator places the material into the hopper, where vibrations move it down the chute. Then, a pneumatic or mechanical ejection device separates the material based on size and quality, ejecting defective material.

Next, the selected material slides into a sorting chamber where a high-speed CCD chip performs precise, high-definition imaging to form a video signal output and display to complete the sorting based on color differences. These machines identify and eliminate defective, imperfect, and diseased elements based on health requirements and the strictest food hygiene standards.

Different Types of Color Sorter Machines

While manufacturers make different types of color sorting machines, most fall within these three primary types:

Chute Color Sorter

A chute sorter has rows of optical sensors all along its product chutes, which operate simultaneously to ensure comprehensive and accurate detection. These machines can sort a high volume of material quickly, making them ideal for high-capacity production lines.

Belt Color Sorter

This type of sorter uses a conveyor belt that moves the material past a single optical sensor. As the objects don’t move as much, they’re far less prone to breakage, so many businesses use this type of sorter for delicate items.

Optical Color Sorter

Optical color sorting uses lasers or cameras to sort bulk products automatically. This non-destructive machine can recognize a product’s structure, shape, defect size, and chemical composition and has a 100% inspection rate.

Primary Working Principles of a Color Sorter Machine

So, what’s the primary working principle of a color sorting machine? Let’s break it down:

First, the CCD color sorter determines the light transmittance and color depth of the material in its feeding hopper by:

  1. Taking high-definition pictures
  2. Comparing the amplitude of the light source changes
  3. Ejecting material that has an amplitude that exceeds the predetermined value

Now, consider the second working principle: when the mechanical separations begin, the materials must be distributed evenly into each channel. Then, the CCD camera in the sorting cabinet will detect the steadily flowing product. Upon identifying unqualified materials, the main control machine activates the spray valve, and the rejected product accelerates into the defective hopper.

Typical Applications of a Color Sorter Machine

ripe peaches running on conveyor belt on a factory

Color sorters are integral to many businesses, particularly in the agricultural and food processing industry. For example, a color sorter can display seed images and swiftly sort through grains and harvested products with rapid efficiency, including:

  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Plastic
  • Salt
  • Wheat
  • Tea
  • Dehydrated vegetables
  • Spices
  • Snacks
  • Oats
  • Coffee beans

In addition, the recycling, diamond, and mining industries, as well as many other companies use them to sort minerals, sand, stone, and ore.

Standard Components of a Color Sorting Machine

Every color sorting machine has distinct features, but the standard features of color sorters from TDI Packsys include:

  • 384 high-precision air jets
  • 12 Toshiba 5400 CCD sensors
  • 25,000 LED reflected light expectancy
  • XILINX FPGA Processor
  • Crisp, 15-inch color touchscreen interface
  • Auto-learning feature
  • Real-time data monitoring
  • Highly customizable cameras

The primary components of a color sorter include the feeding system, where the material enters the channel or chutes, the main control machine, and the optoelectronic system, containing a sorting cabinet, light source, cameras, reflectors, etc.

When you choose TDI Packsys as your supplier, we promise you’ll receive state-of-the-art equipment with advanced technology and seamless operation.

Common Risks Associated with Using a Color Sorting Machine

technician having a regular maintenance of color sorting machine

The financial and social benefits of color sorters are numerous, as their high-efficiency and time-saving properties streamline agricultural sorting and prevent contamination and defects. However, the technology isn’t infallible:

Low accuracy in inexpensive sorters: Certain lower-quality color sorting machines may only achieve mediocre accuracy rates when detecting impurities and defects.

Damaged items in chute sorters: Chute color sorters tend to damage or break individual items as they pass through the chute.

Normal wear and tear: Without proper maintenance and cleaning, operation stressors can harm machine performance. For example, some color sorters may be susceptible to problems with their solenoid valve, such as leaks and faulty movement.

Businesses must invest in a color sorter that meets their needs and complies with industry regulations. Ensuring proper care and maintenance service will extend the machine’s lifespan and useful years.

Contact TDI Packsys for Cutting-Edge Inspection Systems and Packaging Automation Solutions

At TDI Packsys, we emphasize service and support for our clients, providing them with a superior experience every time. We offer a diverse range of automated inspection and packaging systems, including cutting-edge equipment like color sorters that can help you streamline your production line and keep costs under control.

If you want to know more about how color sorting machines work and how we can help your business succeed, contact TDI Packsys today at (877) 834-6750.

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