LS Cranberry is one of the largest growers supplying Ocean Spray Cranberries, the grower-owned agricultural cooperative. Farming and packing 8 million pounds of fresh cranberries a year, on average, during its four-month season, LS Cranberry works hard to maximize productivity while maintaining the highest product quality and food safety. To achieve these goals, they rely on Key Technology’s Optyx® 6000 series sorter and RemoteMD™, a real-time monitoring and diagnostics tool for the sorter.
The Optyx sorter inspects each berry and removes foreign material and defects. RemoteMD continuously monitors the sorter through a secure portal, looking for issues that may require corrective action and alerting LS Cranberry and Key technicians if problems are detected. It allows L&S Cranberry and Key to remotely log in and, if circumstances warrant, fix issues, which helps maximize product quality and line productivity.
“Prior to having our own packing plant, we shipped our fresh cranberries to an Ocean Spray packing plant, which had Optyx sorters. In 2008, we decided that we had grown large enough to justify having our own packing plant. We installed an Optyx sorter because we saw how successful it was at Ocean Spray,” said Kevin Connolly, General Manager at L&S Cranberry.
The Optyx 6000 series sorter at L&S Cranberry features a combination of color cameras and lasers that inspect up to 12,000 pounds of fresh cranberries per hour. The cameras detect each object’s size, shape, and color, and the lasers detect difference in the objects’ structural properties, enabling Optyx to identify and remove foreign material, defects and soft berries called “poppers” that spoil quickly and affect other berries in the bag.
“In 2011, we went from operating one shift per day to two shifts per day, six days per week. At that time, we added RemoteMD to allow us to monitor and access the sorter remotely,” noted Connolly. “It gives me peace of mind, knowing that Key is monitoring our sorter and can see problems and provide support. It also enables me to connect to the sorter from my office or from home, which is especially helpful during the night shift. I’ve used RemoteMD every day since it was installed and every day, it’s worked perfectly. It helps us operate the sorter at peak performance while giving me the freedom to be away from the plant.”
“With such a short season, it’s difficult to find workers. We usually begin every year with new people. Optyx reduces our reliance on labor because it automates sorting, and RemoteMD helps us maintain the highest product quality and line productivity even if the most fully trained person isn’t in the plant,” noted Connolly.
In addition to RemoteMD, Key’s PROliance™ protection plan that covers Optyx includes access to Key’s online training program, a self-paced, interactive curriculum that covers hardware, software and user interface topics. “Key’s online training program frees me up from having to train everybody myself. When employees are better trained, they lean on me less to get involved in the operation,” said Connolly. “With online training, we’ve trained more people, which is a good thing, and we didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to bring in technicians to do the training. Online training is available any time, on-demand, which is especially valuable given our high turnover.”
“At L&S Cranberry, we’re focused on producing the highest quality fresh cranberries. Given how short our season is, it’s important that we achieve perfect accuracy from the moment we start up in September,” concluded Connolly. “Optyx helps us achieve our high quality standards. Online training helps us be prepared and RemoteMD is like having an insurance policy.”
For more information on Optyx, visit www.key.net/products/optyx. For more information on RemoteMD, visit www.key.net/PROliance/remote-monitoring-tools. For more information on Key’s online training program, visit http://www.key.net/PROliance/training/online-training.
About Key Technology, Inc.
Key Technology, an ISO-9001 certified company, is a leading designer and manufacturer of process automation systems, integrated electro-optical inspection and sorting systems, and processing systems. Key® systems help processors to improve quality, increase yield, and reduce cost. With worldwide sales representation, the company maintains demonstration and testing facilities at its headquarters and manufacturing divisions in Walla Walla, Washington, USA, and at Key Technology BV in Beusichem, the Netherlands. The company's common stock trades on The NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol: KTEC.
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