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Blog

Factors that affect the qualitative sorting of marbles

How the sorting of marbles can be done objectively & automated

Marble stands out over time as people’s preference either as building material, or as an element of decoration and enrichment of a living space. The way in which it is created gives unique quality characteristics such as its density and durability, while the natural processes that take place during its transformation give the marble different colors, textures and veins.

Every builder, architect or decorator has, at their disposal, a wide range of options to consider. An important factor in choosing the right marble, apart from the aesthetic approach, is its “sorting”, as it includes many of those additional features that can more accurately judge the suitability of the material in each project.

But what is marble sorting and what does it depend on?

Marble sorting is considered to be the process of grouping marble into qualitative categories, depending on specific characteristics. Categories considered to be of superior quality (for example, without marks, defects or impurities) usually correspond to higher prices. However, it is worth mentioning that sorting is only one of the factors that affect the price of the material, as the determination of prices in the marble and natural stone industry always takes into account the totality or the combination of many individual characteristics.

Marble sorting can depend on:

  • Its technical characteristics, such as hardness, strength, density, water absorption, abrasion resistance, compressive strength, etc., that each project may require.

  • Its morphological characteristics, which come from the composition and deposition of minerals during the process of creating marble.

  • its structural characteristics that are formed during the process of the material’s creation.

Thus, a marble slab can display spots, crystals, ripples, veins, but also various other morphological and structural characteristics. These characteristics can color the marble and cause irregularities in the background or disruptions in the pattern, making each slab unique.

Basic selections of marbles

Although people in the industry create some commonly accepted quality categories, there does not seem to be a single universal categorization system. It is a common phenomenon for the categories to vary according to geographical area, market or supplier.

Among the various categorizations that exist in the global market are Premium, Standard, Eco or Extra, A1, A2, Commercial or Premium and Standard. For example, a Commercial category rock slab displays marked discrepancies, color variations and an irregular pattern, while the A2 category has less obvious characteristics, visible only in bright light. The Premium category, on the other hand, has no obvious differences in color and other characteristics.

What is important to emphasize is that in no case should the process of selecting the appropriate marble include, as a criterion, only the sorting categorization of marble. Every builder, architect and decorator should study the requirements of each project, both in terms of design/aesthetics as well as the technical specifications. This is why the advice and guidance from a trusted supplier is vital.

How are marbles classified into quality sorting?

Up until now, the process of quality sorting has been carried out in the world market by specialists who visually recognize basic characteristics of marble and then classify them in the category that they consider most suitable. As can be easily understood, this categorization contains many subjective elements. As a result, sorting and palletizing errors are not uncommon, something which does not benefit either customers or suppliers. In addition to the errors, there is a lack of real-time production data and accumulated production and operating costs.

Thanks to the high technology that we have already integrated into our production process, these difficulties are a thing of the past. With the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, the sorting can now be done automatically, with the margin of error being minimized and the categorization being done in a stable and uniform way. In short, sorting is now supported by Neural Networks that detect defects on the surface of the marble, monitor production in real time and automate quality assurance processes.

In the following video you can see the only solution in the world that guarantees the objective sorting of tiles.

The only solution in the world that guarantees the objective quality selection of marble

At Stone Group International, we have already integrated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into our tile production line so that our tile sorting can now be done automatically, increasing its effectiveness in the smartest, fastest and most efficient way.

More specifically, we have created, for the first time in the global marble market, Geoffrey, the only Automatic Tile Sorter in the world. Geoffrey has the ability to easily, quickly and accurately identify all possible defects of Thassos Snow White, Volakas and Elba Blue tiles and categorize them accordingly. Its efficiency has already reached 92% and is expected to reach 95%, while efficiency of the human factor reaches 73%, at best. At the same time, the automatic sorter is not affected by factors such as lighting or fatigue. In addition, as part of further strengthening the culture of innovation in our organization, we have created the innovative mobile application “What’s in the box”. Through this application, each of our customers can receive all the information needed for each tile palette they will receive, see all the necessary information, but also photos from each tile separately, from each box packaging, in a matter of just one second.

In the video below you can see some of the key features of the “What’s in the box” application, which is expected to be completed and made available to our customers soon.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the sorting of marble slabs

Our team makes constant efforts to offer the best and most modern services, always guided by our love for marble and respect for our customers. For this reason we have already started to apply artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality in the sorting of our slabs. We are currently in the process of recording and analyzing much data. We estimate that we will be ready to offer our customers the service of automatic sorting of marble slabs in a short time.

To see how the automatic sorting of marble tiles and slabs can be implemented in your business, contact us: info@stonegroup.gr