Linley Valley Fresh installs laser-guided, pork-cutting robot

Monday, 04 July, 2011

Australia’s first laser-guided, pork-cutting robot has been installed, at a cost of $700,000, at Craig Mostyn Group’s Linley Valley Fresh pork processing works at Wooroloo, WA.

Highly accurate laser imaging takes precise measurements of the carcase and programs the robot to cut based on the individual animal’s anatomical features, with cuts designed to maximise the production of high-value meat based on particular customer requirements.

Project Manager Dean Romaniello, Senior Manager, Meat and Livestock Division, Craig Mostyn Group, said that such precision cutting reduced contamination and wastage of meat due to accidental cutting of the stomach.

“Critical to the value of this laser-guided H-bone saw and belly opener equipment for the evisceration line is that stomach breakage, caused by manual error, is reduced from 4% to <1%.”

Based on current production levels at Linley Valley, this equates to more than 20,000 affected pigs annually, which could be reduced to 5000 pigs or less with robotic cutting.

Stomach breakage carried a high risk of meat contamination and affected carcases had to be carefully and individually handled and heavily trimmed.

Romaniello said food safety was a vital concern for the company, which spent more than $10,000 monthly on its own microbiological testing for bacteria, while also working closely with Singapore’s AVA quarantine inspection agency. Introducing robotics would halve the necessity and cost of testing.

“The initial German designed and built evisceration robot we’ve fitted allows staff to be redeployed to higher duties and other robot modules can be added progressively, increasing redeployment of staff.

“Robotic cutting also delivers a more predictable cut of meat, with consistent quality and an increased yield of 1% per carcase,” he said.

Alongside matching dollar funding from the Australian Government’s Food Innovation Grants Program, the laser-guided cutting robots program was also supported by Food Equipment Australia, Banss Meat Technology of Germany, Australian Pork Limited, WA Pork Producers’ Association and the Pork CRC.

“Recognising that Denmark, Canada and the USA, Australia’s major fresh pork competitors in Singapore, had already addressed the challenges of food safety, productivity and labour costs by investing in robotic cutting machines, supported by laser-guided imaging to maximise efficiency, Australia simply had to invest in the technology to protect its competitive edge,” Ron Penn, Craig Mostyn Group General Manager, Meat and Livestock Division, said.

“Taking an industry leadership role as Australia’s major exporter of fresh pork into the very important and competitive Singapore market, Linley Valley Fresh and the Craig Mostyn Group committed to significant expenditure as the first adopter in the Australian pork processing sector of this world-class robotic cutting equipment.”

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