Anyone have experience with a Pellenc optical sorting machine?

I'm trying to understand how much benefit (if any) there is with using an optical sorting table vs a traditional manual grape sorting table. Price is not a big constraint.


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Joe Lutomske from ENOTOOLS

     We can always argue in favor of more technology in the winemaking process. We can point to labor reduction and amortization tables and all manner of philosophical or scientific reasons for doing this. If the budget for the equipment is there, the price of the wine is high enough to justify it, the fruit is machine picked, the volume is high enough to require it, and the rest of the process is near optimum, then I totally understand the inclination toward this technology. 

     But if you are sorting in the vineyard by hand- picking only the best fruit for small lots delivered to the destemmer by way of half- ton bins and a well designed receiving hopper which moves grapes at a constant, metered speed, then this type of technology becomes merely a talking point for the tour. The luxury of the small vineyard is the amount of influence you can have over quality in the field.   

Apr 15, 2016

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Kinnek Knowledge Team

If price is not a big constraint, optical sorting offers significant benefits to a winery versus traditional manual sorting.  The three primary benefits of optical sorting are: production efficiency, consistency, and customizability.

Production Efficiency
Optical sorting machines are usually able to process several tons of grapes per hour (10+, depending on the vine and other conditions).  Because the system is automated after image analysis, it greatly reduces the labor requirements for sorting, with some estimating a nearly 10-20 person reduction.  These sorters can be assigned other tasks in the winery.

Grape sorters will inevitably make mistakes.  While well-trained sorters will make fewer mistakes, a winery aiming for even greater consistency and quality has a lot to gain from moving to optical sorting.  The winemaker can set the parameters for grape sorting for each batch, and the machine spreads the grapes out on the conveyor built between nozzle protrusions, which allows the high-speed, high-resolution camera to distinguish and sort the grapes accordingly.  This process is extremely accurate, moreso than manual sorting.

Manual sorting may present difficulties with regard to creating separate batches based on the quality of the grapes.  Worker-sorters may not be able to accurately and efficiently recognize the quality of the grapes based on the parameters desired.  An optical sorter enables the winemaker to choose the desired grape quality and then have the machine "learn" those characteristics (these characteristics can be adjusted by the winemaker afterwards, too).  Creating batches of differing quality is thus much easier and more efficient with an optical sorter.

The difficulty with optical sorting machines is usually the price.  Costs can be prohibitive for a smaller winery, or for wineries not offering a premium product.

Apr 1, 2014

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