TOMRA Food publishes new ebook to help processors and packers turn data from sorting machines into greater profitability

Free-to-download publication spotlights how sorting data can now be easily accessed and understood to gain commercial advantage

TOMRA Food has published a new ebook to help food processors and packers enhance efficiencies and profitability by using information gathered by sorting machines. The easy-to-read, 21-page booklet, titled “When Sorters Become Data Generating Machines”, explains how businesses can “connect to possibilities” with the TOMRA Insight data platform, and the competitive advantages this gives.  

The ebook starts by reminding that sensors in sorting machines can do a lot more than identify whether products or materials on a line should be accepted or rejected: “They collect and store every piece of information about what they see. And this information can tell you a lot about how your machine is performing, about the products that pass through it, and your process.”

The ebook makes the point that turning TOMRA’s sorters into connected devices is not difficult, and businesses can benefit from digital sorting data with minimal impact — wiring and a stable internet connection is all that is needed. The data solution’s software stores and processes the data coming from sorters and presents this in near real-time in a dashboard-style monitoring and reporting system. This is compatible with SCADA systems — but while SCADA controls the process and visualises related alarms, performances, and control parameters, the digital sorting dashboard enables advanced analytics based on much larger data sets and time series.

Two types of data can be generated by sorters. Data at Rest contains non-real-time information about machines, such as service reports, spare parts history, and manuals. Data in Motion contains a continuous flow of dynamic data originating from the sorting activity, including alarms, sorting throughput, and statistics. It is the Data in Motion which becomes a reporting and decision-making tool.

The ebook identifies four categories of process data. First, material composition statistics visualise what the machine sees, giving a view of the nature and quality of the products or materials in the infeed stream. Second, material distribution statistics visualise the distribution of material on the machine over time, monitoring whether machines and processes are running optimally. Third, sorting statistics visualise the sorting fractions, serving as a tool for quality management and helping to match product characteristics to customer requirements. Lastly, machine health data provides information about the machine’s operational status and condition, preventing unnecessary downtime.

This deep mine of information is accessible and actionable through TOMRA Insight, the cloud-based data platform available to TOMRA machine users as a subscription-based service. The ebook explains the security of digital sorting data gathered by TOMRA Insight, and how, by putting this data to good use, sorting can be transformed from an operational process into a strategic management tool.