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nanoPix designs nanoSorters machine to grade cashew by size and colour
Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Food processing start-up company nanoPix has now developed nanoSorters for the cashew industry. Each of these machines has the capacity to grade 60-75kg cashew, not only by size, but also by colour, shape and surface characteristics.

The grading is applicable to every individual cashewnut and works up to 95 per cent accuracy. It uses image processing-based system automation to detect unpeeled and defective cashewnuts with reasonable accuracy.

“Currently in India, cashewnuts are usually manually graded. Although there is a  grading machine available which works on mechanical methods, its accuracy is low,” Sasisekar Krish, chief executive officer, nanoPix, informed.

“Globally, there are a few players like Oltremare, which design and manufacture shelling machines for cashewnuts. However, these machines work only on the basis of the size and not on the basis of the characteristics of the cashewnuts,” he added.

“The characteristics-based grading feature gives the pricing edge, but what is seen is that globally too, this process is undertaken manually,” Krish said. “Oltramere has sold machines in Vietnam and Africa,” the nanoPix chief added.

“But these machines are not successful in India, the grading of cashewnuts in India is characteristics-based, “ he said, adding that the technology for the machines is totally indigenous.

“The company has applied for a global patent based on the equipment technology. The chipsets for the process used in the nanoSorters are a 180-nanometre-technology, made of silicon. The machines have now entered into commercial production,” Krish added.

The company only manufactures the machines after orders have been placed for the same. It has identified a marketing partner specialising in the sale of agricultural machines to identify and tap the prospective customers. There is huge demand for nanoSorters.

“People need this machine desperately,” Krish said. While the Hubli-based 28-strong start-up is now focussing only on the cashewnut market, it plans to produce machines to grade and process almonds, pistachios, garlic, coffee and groundnuts in the future.

nanoPix has priced  the low-end version of the nanoSorter at Rs 13 lakh and the high-end version at Rs 25 lakh. It is looking to touch the $1-million-mark on the sales of the machines by December 2014.

In a  power-strapped farm environment, the low-end nanoSorter, designed as a farmer-level machine requires only three units per hour, and can also be customised to run on a single phase, which is a big advantage.
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