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one computer; this also allows Giro’s technicians to diagnose
problems from miles away and deter mine any servicing needs.
Giro’s latest offering is plastic netting that “speaks to the
machines,” says Salvador Sola, business strategy and export
director, through a radio-frequency identification tag that alerts
a machine to the type of material and the necessary settings
for it. This dramatically speeds the process and at the same
time helps to eliminate human error. The new technology was
launched at the end of 2010. “The end users don’t need to
do anything but fill the reel of net onto the machine, and the
machine is capable of knowing exactly what is loaded and per-
forming accordingly,” says Sola.
sCAnninG THe COnTenTs
Olives tumble over one another, separated out into different streams
by hue and shape. Multiscan Technologies was created more than a
decade ago by university researchers from the Polytechnic University
of Valencia, who realized that their artificial vision technology might
be useful in the food sector, as a method for determining the quality
of a particular product or of classifying and separating produce by
color. They focused on olives—a key Spanish product—collaborat-
ing with a local Spanish olive packaging company, La Española. The
machines could determine which olives were ripe by their color, and
separate those for packaging.
“T he first machines functioned quite well, and so La Espa-
ñola proposed that we create a company and commercialize
the machines—even to their competitors,” says Álvaro Soler,
Multiscan’s general manager.
At the time, the olive sorting machines on the market could
only categorize types of olives roughly and moved quite slowly,
about 2,000 kilos an hour. The new Multiscan machine could,
through artificial vision technology, separate out the best olives
with greater precision and at a speed 10 times as fast, at 20,000
kilos an hour.
Today’s machines can manage millions of olives an hour, as
much as 30,000 kilos. That is in large part because of improve-
ments in computer speed, together with the development of
proprietary software that allows the machine to make deci-
sions at lightning speed.
“So we’re no longer just classifying the olives by color,”
says Soler, “but now we’re also able to rapidly classify them ...
by their form, by visible defects, even utilizing technology to
detect internal defects.” The machines’ artificial vision employs
infrared and ultraviolet light, lasers, and x-ray technologies, to
get the maximum amount of information about a particular
product as it passes through.
But the knowledge the company had accrued—how to distin-
guish among very small objects at a speedy pace—was not appli-
cable only to olives. “We realized that we’re actually specialists in
managing small, round objects, so we entered the U.S. market by
applying our technology to cherry tomatoes,” continues Soler.
Today the company exports more than half of its machines to
process cherry tomatoes, macadamia nuts in Hawaii, and other
products throughout South America and Europe.
Multiscan is now focusing on improving x-ray technology
for quality control, to scan inside, for instance, bottles of
olives to detect whether perhaps a pit escaped notice, or a
bottle is contaminated with a stray piece of plastic. With such
advanced technology, and with their experience in rapid evalu-
ation of information from various information inputs, in 2010
the company expanded its artificial vision product line from
food into the realm of security, developing a machine to detect
explosives in hand luggage. These machines are being sold by
the Spanish multinational Indra.
“We’ve developed a high-resolution machine that can oper-
ate 10 to 100 times more rapidly than current technology, and
costs 10 times less,” says Soler.
All these innovations in machinery for the food sector, says
Victor Alves, director of the Spanish Association of Machin-
ery Technology, which represents a number of different food
industry associations, “help customers reduce their costs, and
reduce their consumption of resources for a smaller impact
on the environment... These companies design products that
increase the value of food products” around the world.
Learn more at www.technologyreview.com/spain/food
multiscan is a specialist in using artificial vision to classify and
separate small food products such as olives or macadamia nuts.
Photo Courtesy of multiscan
6/2/2011 9:41:52 AM
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