Bühler’s optical sorting technology receives UK’s most prestigious accolade

UK – Swiss technology company, Bühler has received the United Kingdom’s most prestigious innovation award – the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – for its optical sorting technology, PolarVision.

The Queen’s Award, touted as United Kingdom’s “Innovation Oscar”, is the highest award for British businesses which have excelled in the fields of international trade, sustainable development, or innovation.

The award was handed over by John Barber, representative Deputy Lieutenant for London Borough of Newham.

“Bühler are old hands at receiving these awards. After my first visit to the factory I could see why they have been constant winners,” says John Barber, representative of Her Majesty The Queen.

“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.”

Speaking during the ceremony Johannes Wick, Bühler Group’s CEO for Grains & Food, said: “This breakthrough technology will make the difference for us in the market for years to come.

“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.”

Bühler’s PolarVision uses the industry-leading camera technology for the frozen vegetable market to detect even the most challenging foreign material in frozen vegetable production lines.

The tech uses 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.

The technology is currently being used by food producers in Europe and the United States. According to the company, food producers using the technology report an increase in detection rates of foreign materials by 10%, from 85% to 95%.

Ardo, one of the world’s largest producers of fresh-frozen fruit, vegetables and herbs, has introduced PolarVision in its European sorting plants.

“In our experience, PolarVision technology is one of the best digital-vision technologies when it comes to detecting foreign materials in the industrial frozen vegetables process. It’s a jump forward”, said Steven Van Engelandt, Ardo’s Group Project Engineer.

The Bühler camera technology is also being used to detect lower-grade or discolored polymers to ensure the highest grade recyclate can be achieved by plastic recyclers.

By detecting such high rates of contamination, it is now possible to produce food-grade plastic packaging from 100% recycled material, cutting the need for virgin plastic production and levels of plastic being sent to landfill.

While the technology has so far been applied to detect foreign materials, future developments will also be able to detect mycotoxins and even pathogens.

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