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AMV patents spud spotter

Infrared optical device finds flaws in potatoes

A Rogue Valley company has received a U.S. patent on a new product for finding flaws hidden under the skin of potatoes.

The new infrared optical equipment will make it easier for makers of potato products to avoid processing flawed potatoes. Medford-based Advanced Machine Vision announced the patent Tuesday.

Advanced Machine Vision is the parent company of Medford's SRC Vision and Eugene's Ventek, both of which manufacture optical sorting equipment.

The infrared process has been under development for three years, according to Alan Steel, the company's chief financial officer. It allows cameras to see peel-covered defects in a fast-moving stream of potatoes.

The spectrum of light reflected off a potato varies slightly when it strikes an eye or other flaw, allowing it to be detected without removing the skin. This is important to makers of french fries or other products because it helps screen out flawed spuds.

The volume of potatoes processed is so huge, said Steel. Being about to eliminate the processing of flawed potatoes is vital. It's a rather large cost-saving factor to the customer.

Among Advance Machine Vision's customers are the world's three largest french fry processors: McCain Foods, Lamb-Weston and J.R. Simplot.

AMV has grown with the potato processing industry because we understand their needs and provide these solutions, said William Young, the company's chairman, president and chief executive.