revolutionized the recycling industry. The manufacturer
of the cameras wanted to enter the
food sector. We established the collaboration
because the technology convinced me right
from the start, as I was already quite familiar
with the limits of digital food sorting. Foreign
body detection was a serious problem for the
food industry then as it is now, but we considered
it solvable. This is how the first applications
with this new camera came about.
Would you take a closer look at the
developments for the food industry?
It started with the potato industry. Therefore,
the first system on the market was the
Sherlock separator. It is a platform for sorting
whole potatoes. There we are dealing with
raw potatoes, which are supplied to the French
fries industry without prior manual sorting by
potato harvesters immediately after the harvest.
There are all kinds of foreign material
such as stones, plastics, potato tops, organic
foreign body material and even golf balls and
all of this must be removed. The security of the
detection and the discharge is of great importance
for the industry. We have been on the
market for 10 years with the Sherlock Separator.
This platform has meanwhile put global
corporations in the competitive environment.
How does the discharge work on your
With the Sherlock Separator, the potato is
ejected with a flap, whereby the flap is controlled
with air cylinders.
With the Sherlock Air we work with air
extraction. This platform is particularly suitable
for small-sized bulk goods such as nuts, dried
fruits, frozen fruits and frozen vegetables, but
also right into the confectionery sector.
We recently launched the Sherlock Safeguard.
This platform focuses entirely on food
safety. It is usually positioned at the end of a
packaging line and takes another very close
look to remove any foreign bodies via a flap.
We are talking about Zero Touch Reject Technology
here. For example, a heavy stone cannot
be easily ejected with air or a piece of
glass can break from time to time when the
flap is active. This is not the case with this
device. The foreign body is diverted downwards
according to the trap door principle
without active contact. Compared to an
X-Ray or a metal detector, we are also able
to detect all organic foreign bodies such as
insects, soft plastic or wood. In addition, the
Sherlock Safeguard with the inline FOODLAB
4.0 offers complete data evaluation of
both chemical information (e.g. dry matter
content, sugar content) and product defects.
This gives the manufacturer complete traceability
of what quality he packaged in his box
The Sherlock Food Analyser does not
have an ejection mechanism. However, this
new technology shows how the Chemical
Imaging Technology in this device has been
further developed for quantitative inline
analysis, e.g. for dry matter, protein, fat or
Brix sugar content measurements. We have
Food Technologies 15
already carried out measurements of the
degree of ripeness on fruits in order to optimize
the time of delivery to the trade. This
Sherlock Food Analyser will shortly come
onto the market in the second generation
with a complete relaunch, where we have
significantly expanded these options. The
inline FOODLAB 4.0 is just as "onboard" as
Artificial Intelligence. We want to take into
account the significantly increased requirements
of the food industry in order to be
able to supply extensive data for optimizing
the line control.
That seems to be a big step forward if
you can supply a wide range of data
from direct inline data measurement,
because it replaces laboratory services
at low cost and also feeds the data
directly into data processing. Are you
one of the pioneers in Industry 4.0, if I
interpret that correctly?
We are convinced that this will put us at the
forefront. This is not always so easy because
we observe on the customer side that the
right standards have not yet emerged everywhere.
However, we can feel that customers
are accepting our suggestions. From our
point of view, OPC UA (short for Open Platform
Communication Unified Architecture) is
gradually emerging as the future standard
As a small company, we cannot develop
an extra interface for each customer. The pioneering
role can also be exhausting due to
the necessary persuasion, but in the end it is
crowned with success.
In another interview it came up that
there is not a lack of interfaces, but
rather too few standardized interfaces,
because many manufacturers still
believe that the future lies in the manufacturer
specific interface. If you think
this through to the end, you cut yourself
into your own flesh because with
increasing networking and globalization,
only standards can ensure the market
success of all companies involved.
How do you see it?
Exactly like that. As a small company, we can
only rely on one horse anyway. We are more
and more convinced that this standard is “the
right horse” because large companies also
rely on it and from our point of view there is
no alternative solution. Our sorting machines
are digital data centers and provide gigantic
amounts of data. So far they have just been
thrown away. We are able to classify the data
within milliseconds, but then we cannot save