Bühler unveils game-changing 4-in-1 optical sorter for PET recyclers

Sortex A GlowVision digital launch event attracts attendees from over 40 countries

Bühler's Vortex A GlowVision
Bühler's Vortex A GlowVision optical sorting solution for PET recyclers is now available worldwide. Photo Bühler

On 24 June 2021, Bühler launched its Sortex A Glow Vision optical sorting solution for PET recyclers with a digital launch event with attendees from more than 40 countries. With increasing demand for bottle-to-bottle and food-packaging applications, the global plastics market can now get the superior quality and purity levels it needs thanks to the pioneering Sortex A GlowVision, launched recently in London. This one-machine solution and its host of intricate features and benefits includes a custom-built inspection system, highly accurate double-sided cameras, and flexible chute configuration.

Designed, built, and validated at Bühler’s facility in London, Lawrence Kuhn, Bühler’s new Head of Segment for Plastics said, “The launch of the Sortex A GlowVision is welcome news for PET recyclers around the world. It’s a groundbreaking ‘4-in-1’ optical sorting solution that can be used for simultaneous color, polymer, foreign material and loose-label sorting. It’s the first Bühler optical sorter to feature integrated digital solutions from day one. Exceptional efficiency and accuracy are assured.”

Outstanding sorting & re-sorting results

In response to growing demand, the new Sortex for PET also offers a simultaneous re-sort function, which delivers the highest ever reject concentration (up to 40% when the re-sort channel is deployed). The Sortex A GlowVision is available in three to five chute models on a five-module frame and features a custom-built inspection system designed specifically for PET sorting.

Lawrence Kuhn Photo Bühler
Bühler’s head of Segment Plastics Lawrence Kuhn Photo Bühler

Kuhn explains, “As a 4-in-1 sorting solution for bottle-to-bottle and food applications, the Sortex A GlowVision has been designed with the increasing industry requirements in mind. In this respect the Sortex A GlowVision will be of great interest to PET processors looking to reduce contamination levels on key color and polymer defects, providing one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market today. Thanks to its unique double-sided camera viewing technology, the Sortex A GlowVision provides outstanding results, performing impressively on a broad range of defects typically found in PET streams.” The new sorting system for plastic recyclers deals effectively with opaque, white, and transparent colored flakes, as well as on polymer defects including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polycarbonate (PC), polystyrene (PS) and polyamide (PA), not to mention a superior performance on metals and significant reduction of loose labels.

Sortex A GlowVision with cloud-based monitoring system

The new Sortex for PET comes with Bühler’s built-in Sortex monitoring system subscription. The cloud-based system continuously analyzes data straight from the sorter and provides operators with real-time monitoring of key performance indicators such as yield and throughput. This helps to improve productivity and keep yield consistently high.

The at-a-glance dashboard of the Sortex monitoring system, which can be viewed on a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet, provides a simple yet comprehensive overview of each sorter, with alarms able to notify the customer when their key parameters are out of specs. Kuhn continues, “Our experts can help operators to configure their own thresholds and alarm settings according to their specific needs and enables benchmarking with comparable equipment or plants in different locations.”

Performance reports for optimal sorting

The Sortex monitoring system, which tracks the sorter’s performance in real-time, sends operators instant mobile alerts should any unusual sorter event occur. Operators can then make adjustments to avoid any wastage, while minimizing downtime. Processors can use the generated sorter data to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in weekly or monthly performance reports.

“The Sortex monitoring system measures input contamination and defect trends, which are useful performance parameters,” Kuhn says. “Warnings for over and under ejections of certain defect types is also a key feature of the monitoring system. It allows operators to immediately adapt their operations and ensure the quality output level. Analyzing such data requires expert knowledge which can otherwise be time-consuming. But our digital services automate the process, saving operators time and effort, while providing the metrics and KPIs that matter most.”

Control and support for IoT4

The Sortex A GlowVision also comes with SortControl – an option which helps to integrate the sorter with a local automation system via a compatible programmable logic controller (PLC), enabling central data collection. An interface between the optical sorter and the automation system will be achieved using a proprietary gateway. Through the integration of automation protocols, SortControl enables the implementation of requirements for Industry 4.0 compatibility.

Kuhn says, “SortControl provides management information about the solution’s status, recipes, etc. With our digital solutions, processors can maximize uptime, maintain optimal performance, avoid constantly monitoring technologies and maximize their return on investment.”

Those who invest in a Sortex A GlowVision or indeed any of Bühler’s solutions can also rely upon a highly experienced global support network, says Kuhn. “With 100 service stations and application and training centers in 24 locations around the world, our customers have access to qualified engineers and original spare part warehouses as and when they need them,” he says.

Bühler is well established in India and is perhaps best known for its Sortex systems used to sort rice and other food grains. It has its Indian head office in Bengaluru and also a plant there to manufacture coffee roasting machines.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


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