Future of poultry processing: Intelligent automation
With increasing sensor capabilities and falling costs for computing power, practical systems are being developed that promise to fully automate tasks as varied as breast deboning and carcass inspection.
Broiler processing plants have the capabilities to automate many tasks, but automation of breast deboning has proven to be more difficult.
Read the entire report about the future of poultry processing exclusively in the August issue of Poultry International.
Early attempts to automate breast deboning in broiler and turkey processing plants were largely unsuccessful. Equipment offerings have been getting more effective at removing meat and minimizing bone breakage, and labor costs have continued to increase. In the European market, where bird sizes are smaller and the labor cost per pound of meat processed is higher, automated breast deboning systems have become widely accepted by broiler processors.
In the U.S., where the live weight of birds raised specifically for deboning routinely exceed 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms) the cost analysis has still generally favored deboning of breast frames on manual cone lines. The statement, “a good cone deboning line can outperform a machine” is still generally accepted, but things are changing.
The cost of robots has dropped significantly, by about half over the past five to 10 years. This is indicative of the drop in the cost of the sensors and computing power needed to operate machinery that can adjust itself on the fly. Another significant factor in the equation will be the increasing cost of labor.
When considering the true cost of labor on a deboning line, much more than just the cost of wages and average benefits for workers need to be considered. Workers compensation costs specific for deboning line employees need to be considered as well as the downtime costs when there are labor shortages.
You’ll also learn about:
- Poultry nutrition and health trends shaping the future
- How poultry processors can ensure breast meat quality
This is the eighth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers the future of poultry processing. The next article in the series will explore industry structure.