While optical colour sorters are not yet commonplace in the seed sector, more and more seed companies are starting to invest in them. So, I thought it would be a good idea to share the top three most common mistakes companies make before purchase and how to avoid them.
One of the first mistakes that processors make is only looking at the price. They often want to buy the cheapest machine, and thereby ignore other important aspects of their investment. In addition to price, potential buyers should also consider the size and distribution of the service network. Imagine you have an issue with one of your sorters and have to wait a long time for an engineer to come and repair it. Having a good support network with multiple engineers, that speak your language, can make a huge difference, e.g. during the holiday season, or if one of the engineers is sick. Halting your production for several days because you are waiting for an engineer to come can cost a whole lot more than the initial price difference. Add to that, that you will probably use the machine for 5 – 10 years, then a calculation of the savings from buying from a supplier with a good network can easily be made.
A second mistake is that buyers do not test or do not want to test the machine. They do not make the effort to compare the machine of supplier A with the machine of supplier B. The technology may look the same but looks can be deceiving. This is because some suppliers merely bring together some off-the-shelf parts and somehow the machine works, whereas other suppliers design the various parts, such as cameras, software or the circuit boards, and make sure they form a perfectly finetuned sorter that fits with the exact needs of the buyer.
And a third common mistake is that potential customers buy from inexperienced sellers who do not ‘speak the native language of colour sorters’. I have met suppliers who could not explain the workings of machine in detail or were targeting the wrong crops with their machine. Seed sorting is a highly specialized job that requires a lot of detailed and crop specific knowledge, plus many years of experience. So, don’t take any shortcuts!
To summarize, when you’re looking for your next colour sorter: don’t buy on price alone; don’t buy without testing and don’t buy from inexperienced dealers.