SORTCO relies on SIKORA’s online inspection and sorting system for highest material purity in contract sorting

SORTCO GmbH & Co. KG is a specialist for optical and mechanical sorting of shape and color deviations in plastic pellets. In addition, the company offers dust removal and metal separation of plastic raw materials. Since March 2021, SORTCO has been using two PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED systems from SIKORA in its new, state-of-the-art sorting service center in Niederzissen/ Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. With these, the pellets to be sorted are inspected 100 % optically and impurities from a size of 50 µm are automatically sorted out.

Technically demanding plastics, such as those used in the medical sector or in the aircraft and automotive industries, require the highest quality standards as well as reliable control and processing of raw materials. Accordingly, the requirements for the purity of the materials are very high. SORTCO has been specialized in contract sorting since 2015 and professionally prepares plastic pellets according to customer requirements.

In the sorting service center, which was opened in spring 2021, the company sorts standard plastics as well as optically demanding technical plastics. For this purpose, SORTCO uses two online inspection and sorting systems from SIKORA. “The decision for SIKORA was made due to the best detection for us, an excellent analytics and the proximity to the company, which is not unimportant for us,” says Hilger Groß, Head of Sales & QM at SORTCO, and continues: “The PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED is typically used where other sorting systems have difficulties. Namely, in the detection of very small optical defects from a size of 50 µm.” SORTCO uses the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED to sort primarily transparent, natural-colored and, to a lesser extent, colored pellets. The focus is on unreinforced materials which, after sorting, find their use in high-quality optical applications. Each system is equipped with three optical cameras, which detect even the smallest optical impurities from 50 µm in size and automatically sort them out by compressed air pulse. If required, the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED can also be extended by an X-ray camera for the detection of metal particles in the raw material.

Plastic pellets are optically inspected and sorted by the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED

“Black specks are the focus of our sorting work. In addition, we remove all discolorations that have a different color than the polymer to be sorted,” explains Groß and continues: “As a service provider, SORTCO is confronted with new materials and new and old contamination every day. This means that we also have to adjust the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED to constantly changing products and customer requirements. We therefore create a special recipe for each product that can also be used and adapted for future jobs.” During sorting, the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED automatically records the number of all defects, the smallest edge length of the optical defect, the contamination area and, for example, the size class of the defect, which can be freely adjusted and specified according to customer requirements. In addition, the system detects the intensity with which the color deviation was detected. “All key data is checked again at the end of the job, stored and a test report is generated for the customer. Logging of the results is also possible but must be decided due to the large volume of data,” sums up Lars Ruttmann, Managing Director at SORTCO.

“Our customers appreciate that we understand their problem about the cause and effect of the defect, i.e. we dispose of plastics know-how, offer the appropriate solution and take over all the work necessary to produce the optimal quality,” summarizes Groß, adding, “By commissioning optical sorting, our customers contribute to a very significant extent to protecting our environment and avoiding waste.” He advises interested customers for whom sorting is an option to take a closer look at products that have recently shown higher reclamation costs. “It is comparatively easy to calculate a comparison between sorting costs and potential savings. However, if the customer also takes into account his lost sales, his loss of image and all the costs for unnecessarily consumed resources such as energy, machines, personnel, materials, freight, etc., many people get very wide-eyed. The advantages of sorting always outweigh the disadvantages,” concludes Groß.

Ruttmann also sees an increasing demand for optically sorted raw materials in the future. “Sorting is in demand because manufacturers have recognized that special requirements also necessitate special measures. We are pleased to have found such a reliable partner in SIKORA and its sorting system, with whom we successfully cooperate in our core business.”