TOMRA’s user interface TOMRA ACT has been named a silver winner in the 2018 International FoodTec Award, organised by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).

TOMRA ACT is designed to make sorting adjustments simple and predictable for the user or operator, enabling optimised control. This is achieved by changing the way the defect and product features are setup. Each user can define their own sorting criteria and apply customised naming conventions based on these criteria.

The software application is available on all the leading manufacturers’ new food sorting machines, featuring an intuitive main screen, allowing operators to see critical sorting information and real-time processing data at a glance. Clear information enables improved monitoring, and fast adjustments are possible at any time, so the operator is always in control and is ideally placed to simply and easily optimize the sort.

TOMRA ACT is at the core of TOMRA’s latest generation of food sorters, the TOMRA 5A and TOMRA 5B. The user interface can also be installed as an upgrade in certain existing models. This means that nonce an operator is trained to use TOMRA ACT, they can use any machine featuring the software.

“To be nominated and ultimately receive a silver award in such a prestigious competition is a fantastic endorsement of the quality of design that goes into TOMRA sorters and elevates the value of our products to customers,” says John McGloughlin, head of innovation, strategy and design at TOMRA Sorting Food.

“The development of TOMRA ACT involved many in-depth discussions with customers. A key insight from the discussions was that small adjustment errors can have major consequences in terms of yield and cost. To overcome this, we had to make TOMRA ACT simple, intuitive and straightforward.

“TOMRA ACT is focused on the customer, allowing them to easily control the quality and direction of product flows in their sorting process, with simple, intuitive touch gestures and actions on the screen.”

This user interface for TOMRA food sorters is a fundamentally different way for users and customers to interact with these machines. Food sorting machines contain very complex sensing, conveying and ejection technologies. With TOMRA ACT, a system has been created that keeps the complicated sorting task as simple as possible. The complex adjustments are simplified by drag-and-drop operations on the sorter touch screen. 

This new interface provides the sorter as a device for separating different quality products into separate streams and gives the operator immediate feedback on the behaviour of the machine. Certain criteria of product quality are bundled and represented by simple blocks. The criteria blocks show relative real-time data about these criteria within the process, and by simply touching the on-screen criteria block, the operator can adjust important parameters via the sort criteria. These criteria describe the product in the streams, not the features or functions of the machine.

John McGloughlin adds: “The aim was to create a system that keeps even a complicated sorting task as simple as possible. I think we have met, and possibly exceeded, that objective. Historically, the sorter’s UI focused on the machine’s technology, and it was confusing and difficult to use. “TOMRA ACT is continually used and tested on working client sites in Europe and the US, providing iterative design learning that feeds back into the development process. Our focus is to make the user experience of sorting with a TOMRA system as easy, productive and rewarding as possible. TOMRA ACT is a powerful user tool that is evolving with use and technology.”

The International FoodTec Awards are presented every three years. They are awarded by the DLG in cooperation with multiple trade and media partners. The winners were selected by an international jury consisting of renowned experts from various disciplines. The result was five gold and 12 silver medals.

The award ceremony will take place on 20 March 2018 at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne. For more information about the International FoodTec Awards: For more information about Anuga Foodtec 2018: For more information about TOMRA ACT, please visit the website.