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Potato Chip/Crisp Processors Choose Key Technology

Sorting Potato Chips
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June 6, 2017 – Key Technology’s Optyx® digital sorters are selected by regional processors of batch-fried potato chips/crisps working to satisfy the rising quality expectations of consumers and retailers around the world. Identifying color and opacity, Optyx detects and removes defects such as oil-soaked soft spots, blisters, doubles and clumps as well as green spots, bruises, overcooked black spots and foreign material (FM). Designed for production lines handling up to 1000 to 2000 kg of chips per hour, Optyx 3000 and Optyx 6000 sorters automate inspection to improve product quality and increase yields while reducing labor costs.

“We wanted to add a sorter to an existing production line. We considered two suppliers, comparing performance and the price of the system, and selected Key because of their outstanding track record. They have a lot of batch-fried sorters in the field, which are performing well, and their price was attractive,” said Tom Keogh, Managing Director of Keogh’s Crisps Ltd (Dublin, Ireland). “We measure this sorter’s success on the quality of our final product and the improvement in our production costs. We’re saving labor in QC because Optyx allowed us to reposition six people over two shifts to elsewhere in the plant.”

“For batch kettle chip producers like us, having chips stuck together as doubles is a serious problem, because they’re not fully cooked. One soft center can turn a bag of chips rancid very quickly. We chose Key because they solved this problem better than others. Optyx removes FM and other defects too, but its ability to detect doubles is what made this sorter really stand out,” said John Joseph, Operations Director at Burts Chips (Roborough, England). “Before we installed Optyx, we had to rely on manual inspection after our digital sorter to remove doubles. Now, thanks to Key, that’s no longer necessary.”

Keogh’s and Burts both selected Optyx sorters featuring cameras and lasers in combination to maximize the detection and removal of the widest range of FM and defects. Alternatively, Optyx can be configured with top- and bottom-mounted cameras to successfully sort batch-fried chips. By developing proprietary software algorithms that detect the challenging defects and FM that plague batch-fried chip manufacturers, Key is the clear leader in this market.

“We have unrivalled experience sorting batch-fried chips as well as continuous-fried chips. We maintain very close relationships with all our customers – from the smallest regional processors to large multinationals. This gives us a large knowledge base to draw on as we continually refine our systems and elevate the performance and customer value of our sorters,” said Marco Azzaretti, Advanced Inspection Systems Product Manager at Key. “With our product handling expertise, we design and integrate conveyors that optimize sorting and achieve the gentlest handling for these fragile products. Our advanced algorithms differentiate doubles, which are rejected, from fold-over chips, which can be accepted. The combination of application-specific hardware and software intelligence helps maximize product quality and minimize waste.”

For ease of operation, KeyWare® Application Software is designed specifically for each application, categorizing defects and FM in terms common to batch-fried chips. For processors that handle other products such as vegetable chips, Optyx can be equipped with multiple KeyWare application packs that enable product changeovers in seconds. “This is sophisticated technology, yet the operator interface is very simple to use,” noted Joseph.

The patented, icon-based graphical user interface (GUI) is easy to learn, reducing operator training and simplifying optimum operation of the system. The GUI can reside locally on the system and can also be accessed remotely, providing flexibility in the operating environment and supporting remote troubleshooting and service assistance. Sophisticated real-time and on-demand diagnostics help minimize and avoid costly downtime by detecting early conditions that could eventually compromise inspection performance.

Optyx features Key’s Information Analytics, a set of data acquisition and connectivity tools that allow users to gather a broad range of product and operational data from the sorter. The data can be made available flexibly for off-line analysis or connected to a customer’s SCADA or Manufacturing Execution System.

“Our Optyx sorter gives us confidence in the quality of our product. It allows us to concentrate on other things. We’ve got nine batch fryers feeding one Key digital sorter, so we can be sure that defects won’t end up in our customers’ product,” concluded Joseph. “We are so pleased with this sorter, we’re buying another. It’s the exact same system we already own but wider, so we can increase our throughput.”

For more information on Key’s Optyx, visit

About Key Technology, Inc.

Key Technology is a global leader in the design and manufacture of automation systems including digital sorters, conveyors and other processing equipment. Applying processing knowledge and application expertise, Key helps customers in the food processing and other industries improve quality, increase yield and reduce cost. Key manufactures its products at its headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington, USA; Beusichem, the Netherlands; Hasselt, Belgium; and Redmond, Oregon, USA. Key’s domestic facilities are certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard. Key offers customer demonstration and testing services at five locations including Walla Walla, Beusichem, and Hasselt as well as Sacramento, California, USA and Melbourne, Australia; and maintains a sales and service office in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico.


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