Key Technology has introduced its new Auto Valve Check feature for new and installed G6 Tegra sorters.
By automating the routine testing of Tegra's ejection system valves, food processors can easily detect potential problems more frequently and with greater accuracy, enabling them to take the corrective action that may be needed to operate the sorter at peak performance. Auto Valve Check helps assure that Tegra's ejection system is functioning properly, which improves food safety and product quality while reducing demands on labour.
Tegra removes foreign material and product defects from the acceptable product stream using a close-coupled high-speed ejector system, which is made up of a series of air jets spaced 6mm apart that span the width of the system.
To assure proper functionality, the valve on each of up to 256 air jets must be checked periodically because contamination of a valve at the end of its one-year life can cause a full or partial value failure. A value sticking in the open position causes yield loss as good product is removed and a valve sticking in the closed position can cause foreign matter defects to not be ejected as desired. The more frequently the valves are checked, the more quickly problems can be resolved.
Historically, processors validate the performance of a sorter's valves manually. The manual routine typically steps through each valve one at a time and relies on the operator to hear anomalies in each valve's operation. This process is subjective, depending on the operator's ability to hear and interpret what he hears. Since the general noise level in many plants can be substantial, the manual test can often be inaccurate.
Key's new Auto Valve Check is objective and can be performed anytime the sorter is not running product such as during changeovers or sanitation. Initiated by either the operator or an OPC command from the network, it tests each value and recognizes sluggish or partially open valves as well as failed valves. It delivers a list to the sorter's user interface and remotely via the plant-wide network of the valves that are not fully operational. Armed with this data, the food processors can then perform any necessary value maintenance.