But such technology has rarely been available for those companies which process only small quantities of grain or other raw materials - until now.
Sortex, an affiliate company of the German processing equipment manufacturer Buhler, has extended its range of Z-Series optical sorters with the addition of a single-channel model designed specifically for small-scale use.
In fact, the Z-Series colour sorters are available in four different sizes, equipped with one, two, three or four product channels.
The four-channel model can handle up to 16 metric tons of durum wheat an hour, while the smallest is capable of testing up to 4 tons per hour without simultaneous resort or up to 2.5 tons per hour with simultaneous resort.
As with the larger counterpart, the Z-Series sorters all use high-grade cameras to 'look' for defects as the grain passes through the sorter. Ergot (fungus), dark impurities, germ discolorations, dark pebbles and discoloured or unripe kernels are identified and then removed automatically by high-speed ejection nozzles.
The Z-series range of small-scale sorters has only been around for a relatively short time - Buhler has thus far made just 12 sales - but it has already proven to be highly successful for a number of product applications, including millet, rye, oats and durum wheat.
Sortex was one of the pioneers of optical sorting equipment for agribusiness applications and is one of the world's major suppliers in the field of colour sorters, with customers in over 50 countries using sorting anything from vegetables and coffee to peanuts and rice - to say nothing of grain.