Making meat processing equipment to boost efficiency

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Ishida has supplied equipment to the big Almarai plant in Saudi Arabia
Ishida has supplied equipment to the big Almarai plant in Saudi Arabia
Raising efficiency and reducing waste is the name of the game, reports Alyson Magee.

Key points

A focus on maximising yield in the meat and poultry sector is resulting in further development of integrated processing lines, as well as innovative ways of making use of products previously destined for waste.

The latest integrated lines are offering greater efficiency, flexibility and yield, helping processors to meet retailer demands in terms of specification, portion control and presentation. Innovative processors are also finding markets for by-products, however, improving their bottom line by simultaneously reducing waste disposal costs and generating new revenue streams.

Finnish company Coctio is currently targeting the UK market as a specialist in processing bone by-products from meat, poultry and fish for use in broths and sauces, as well as fat, fertiliser and bio-energy. Laying claim as the only company to offer a manufacturing line for producing it industrially, Coctio identifies bone broth as a health food trend with market growth potential.

With Coctio’s manufacturing line, meat and poultry processors can meet consumer demand for nourishing bone broths, soups and sauces, while also reducing the waste and transportation costs associated with disposing of bones and potentially reducing their energy bill.

“The theme is a hot topic globally, with food companies looking for efficient and productive solutions to reduce the amount of waste generated in food production but also to produce bioenergy,”​ says Kai Iiskola, chief executive of Coctio.

“The bone proportion of the total carcase weight is 30 – 40%. Coctio has created a unique and innovative production line that processes bone leftovers to multiple commercial end products. Leftovers from the bone broth simmering process can be refined into industrial fat, pet food material and natural gelatin. The rest of the bone residue can be burned to create heat energy for the plant’s usage and, finally, the remaining ash can be sold as fertiliser material.”

Innovation (Return to top)

In another example of innovation, Dutch food-to-go manufacturer Qizini has earned plaudits from Compassion in World Farming for using meat from laying hens used in the ‘Rondeel’ enriched barn system to produce 3.5M sandwiches for Dutch airline KLM. Responding to demand from its airline customer for high welfare, locally-sourced ingredients, Qizini collaborated with Rondeel and food development company Kokreateur to source chicken meat from the ‘retired’ laying hens, which ultimately produced a greater yield than normal broiler chickens.

Beyond bones and ‘old birds’, maximising yield from carcases is a major driver across meat and poultry processing, and often entails thinking outside of the box.

“There has to be carcase balance, as it is expensive to downgrade meat,” ​says Justin Scale of Capestone Organic Poultry. “We are able to reduce levels of wastage by working closely with our customers; an open dialogue throughout the supply chain is essential to being efficient. We also make the most of our high quality, raw material through innovative product development such as garnishes, flavoured butters and different styles of butchery. Added value in this way is very important for maximising our returns.

“As with all businesses, meat and poultry processors are looking for greater efficiencies and labour savings, and this is often implemented through technological advances. However, operating more quickly has to be tempered. It is vital to guarantee safety at the same time.”

Capestone’s organic status offers an advantage over its non-organic competitors with regards to one of the biggest issues in poultry production, according to Scale.

“For anyone working in poultry processing, the biggest driver currently is campylobacter,”​ he says. “It is a public health issue that has to be taken very seriously. Capestone has been certified organic by OF&G​ [Organic Farmers & Growers] since 1998. OF&G’s stringent regulation helps to ensure our levels of occurrence are, and always have been, very low. This is down to the speed at which our processing works and meticulous attention to detail.

“Controlling campylobacter in processing is dependent on regular monitoring, quality and effectiveness of evisceration, effective cooling regimes, reducing transport times and having a clear understanding of birds that are healthy and as stress free as possible,”​ Scale adds.

Processors can use industry-specific software to improve carcase balance in the poultry industry, says Mike Edgett, industry and solution strategy director for process manufacturing at US supplier Infor. “The key to profitability is in finding a good market for all of the cuts from a carcase and not merely the higher-value fillets and joints,” ​he explains. “Each cut has its own profit margin and costs associated with the production process. Certain material surpluses created by the need to fulfil service obligations are inevitable.

“The planning process and the extent to which it is able to react to market needs can make a difference of 1–2% on total cost of goods sold, equating to substantial savings over the course of a planning year.”

Replacing out-dated spreadsheets, Edgett claims “the advent of meat-specific planning optimisation software, which is increasingly affordable to medium-sized businesses, offers a step change in this planning process and the opportunity to significantly increase margins, improve service levels, and provide early visibility into opportunities for surplus meat”.

In addition to improved carcase balance, further advantages associated with using the software include enhanced food safety and traceability, he adds.

Integrated processing lines (Return to top)

While innovative thinking and clever software can boost meat and poultry processors’ margins, the backbone of any operation is the right kit. And, for many processors, with greater integration of processing lines comes increased efficiency and yield.

Oxfordshire-based Interfood Technology has recently taken on two new engineers to meet increased demand for its TVI total concept single processing line for fresh meat and poultry portioning. Laying claim to giveaway of less than 3% for bone-in and 2% for boneless products, the TVI offers crust freezing, slicing, portion control, shingling and tray dispensing functions.

In addition to optimising yield, features of the TVI include flexibility with easy changeover between product types from steaks to strips and sliced or diced meats and improved pack presentation to make the finished products more appealing on the shelf.

Settings can be changed without tools, switching from bone-in to boneless lines by swiftly changing moulds and blades, while machine downtime is also reduced as through the innovative design of the product transport and slicing system the meat can be processed without intensive crust freezing or tempering required, according to Richard Nethercot, TVI product manager at Interfood.

Meatball forming systems (Return to top)

Elsewhere, Vemag meatball forming systems from equipment supplier Reiser are said to deliver very high portioning accuracy and product quality combined with consistent performance and reliability.

Multivac, meanwhile, specialises in packaging machinery but also supplies complete processing lines. It recently invested in a new temperature-controlled product development centre at its Swindon site. “Multivac can offer a range of processing and preparation equipment for the meat and poultry sector,”​ says Laura Affleck, UK marketing manager for Multivac.

“Our Laska and Risco ranges of preparation and processing equipment, can offer simple, single machines all the way through to fully automated and integrated production lines. And when partnered with machinery from the rest of our range of equipment, it means we can take raw material, grind it, mix it, portion it, pack it, inspect it and label it, for it then to be put onto a pallet.”

Both the Risco and Laska lines of kit offer flexibility to processors, and reduced costs and waste. “Whether you’re manufacturing sausages or forming meat balls, burgers, mince, or escalopes, the Risco range of processing equipment along with its comprehensive range of accessories will provide the perfect weight control and shape characteristics for your formed products,”​ Affleck explains.

“Another great piece of machinery is the heavy duty, high quality Laska WWB 200. This super grinder is great for grinding whole frozen blocks down to 3mm, while saving on labour, reducing handling of product and using minimal space within the factory environment.”

Another provider of full processing lines is Ishida, which has supplied one of the world’s largest poultry processing sites with re-hanging and cut-up systems, deboning machinery, multi-head weighers, checkweighers, tray sealers, batching and grading systems, X-ray inspection systems, metal detectors, scanners, strapping and trussing machines, glazing equipment and infeed systems.

“For any packing line to function accurately and efficiently at the required throughput, it is vital that each piece of equipment works to maximum efficiency and that they are all fully integrated into an efficient, working line,”​ says Ulrich Nielsen, director of business solutions at Birmingham-based Ishida Europe.

“Rather than a food manufacturer sourcing individual pieces of equipment from different suppliers, one supplier takes responsibility for the devising and installation of the entire line, linking together all the different parts of the operation into one centrally controlled unit.

“This helps to maximise throughput and ensure all parts of the line are working to the greatest efficiency.”

Related topics: Manufacturing, Meat & poultry

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