Sorting Systems reject defective kettle potato chips.

Press Release Summary:

Optyx® sorters enable kettle-style potato chip manufacturers to automate inspection process for improved product quality and food safety. Using camera and lighting configuration to sense opacity as well as subtle color differences, systems identify and remove objectionable clusters of chips stuck together as well as defects and foreign material. Optyx 3000 and 6000 feature 24 and 48 in. scan widths, respectively, to handle up to 2,750 and 5,500 lb of kettle chips per hour.

Original Press Release:

Key Technology Introduces Optyx® for Kettle Chips

November 18, 2008 - Key Technology introduces Optyx® sorters designed specifically for kettle-style potato chips. Featuring a unique camera and lighting configuration to sense opacity as well as subtle color differences, these new Optyx sorters identify and remove objectionable clusters of chips stuck together as well as defects and foreign material. With Optyx, kettle chip manufacturers can now automate their inspection process to dramatically improve product quality and food safety while reducing labor costs.

Historically, kettle chip processors have had to rely on hand sorting because until now, automated inspection systems could not detect problematic clusters, which are common to kettle chip production. To address this sorting challenge, Key modified its field-proven Optyx sorters with a specialized off-belt scanning zone that measures opacity to detect and remove clusters of kettle chips in addition to standard on-belt scanning that identifies defects and foreign material.

Removing clusters of kettle chips from the production line enhances product quality and maximizes food safety. While some two-chip clusters are acceptable to some customers, thicker clusters are usually not. More importantly, thick clusters tend to retain moisture, which can cause the entire contents of the package to spoil, creating a serious health risk to consumers and a liability concern to processors. Located immediately upstream of packaging, Optyx assures processors and their customers that packaged products meet specifications.

Optyx for kettle chips features two scanning zones. An on-belt scan, identical to the inspection typically used by other potato chip manufacturers, uses a proprietary color camera to identify millions of subtle color differences to detect defects such as chips with green spots, bruises, and overcooked black spots. An optional top-mounted laser can be added to maximize detection and removal of foreign material. A unique off-belt, in-air scan uses a bottom-mounted color camera, no foreground lighting, and high-intensity background lighting to inspect product opacity. With opacity inspection, objectionable clusters of multiple chips stuck together are easily detected and ejected from the production line.

As product passes through the sorter, it is scanned while still on the belt. Product is then launched off the end of the Optyx belt for in-air viewing. Using Key's proprietary image processing technology, the sorter quickly analyzes the images, comparing each object to previously defined accept/reject standards. When a cluster, defective product, or foreign material is identified, the system activates the close-coupled high-speed ejector system, which is made up a series of air jets spaced 6 mm apart that span the width of the system. While the defective object is still air-borne, the air jets pinpoint the object to reject and remove it from the acceptable product stream.

Optyx 3000 features a 24-inch (610-mm) scan width to handle up to 2750 lb. (1250 kg) of kettle chips per hour. For higher volume processors, Key offers Optyx 6000. With a 48-inch (1220-mm) scan width, Optyx 6000 achieves production rates of up to 5500 lb. (2500 kg) of kettle chips per hour.

The patented, icon-based graphical user interface (GUI) is easy to learn and use, reducing operator training and simplifying optimum operation. Product settings can be stored and retrieved for fast product changeover. The GUI can reside locally on the sorter and can be accessed remotely via network or Internet. Sophisticated real-time and on-demand diagnostics help avoid costly downtime.

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 Global Market tier of The NASDAQ Stock MarketSM under the symbol: KTEC.

Reader Inquiries To:
Anita Funk, Corporate Communications Manager
Key Technology, Inc.
150 Avery Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362 USA
Tel: 509 529 2161
Fax: 509 527 1331

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