The sphere sorter is a device, created originally for sorting and distribution applications in the logistics sector, which is proving to be extremely versatile to carry out numerous applications also in food packaging. The operating principle is to activate the movement of idle spheres embedded within a modular plastic chain; the operating method will lead to different results.
The simplest result is obtained by putting the spheres in contact with a uniform sliding plane during the normal motion of the chain. The action of the spheres with respect to the movement of the conveyor belt leads to an acceleration of the product which, compared to the nominal speed of the belt, will approach double the set value.
The most classic application involves fitting a belt conveyor underneath the sliding surface positioned orthogonally with respect to the motion of the modular chain.
Activating the motion of the belt will give the products a transverse movement component that can be used to expel, select or sort the products themselves on multiple rows. As we will see later this is the application of greatest interest to us.
Lastly, by inserting rotary plates or belt conveyors that move in opposite directions under the chain surface, it is also possible to obtain the rotation of the products with respect to the vertical axis. Precision and repeatability in positioning require particular attention to be paid to the mechanics and cyclical of these devices.
The most interesting aspect of these applications from Mh’s point of view is the fact that the operation of the balls from below allows to handle even light and extremely thin products, which would not be movable with traditional systems such as blade diverters or even vertical motorized belts, without running the risk of the product getting stuck between the diverter wall and the sliding surface of the conveyor belt. Experimental tests have also revealed good efficacy in treating products with a base that is not perfectly regular, as long as the application is helped with some specific precautions.
This feature is particularly important to answer to the challenges posed to handling and conveying by new types of packaging devoted to the use of compostable or recyclable materials and in any case envelopes that has reduces quantity of packaging materials.
An excellent example of these kind of packaging, that offer great advantages in term of reduction of plastic and ease to recycle, are the ones with a paper or thin carton base and a plastic skin enveloping the product placed over it. These are the application where the Sphere Sorter really shines. In an era in which even the approval of loans is facilitated in the case of ESG investments, this device therefore presents itself as a fundamental tool for giving value to customers.