Previously, it was only possible to downgrade whole wings, even if some parts were perfectly fine ‘A’-grade pieces of meat. Only a very labor-intensive process could detect a broken whole wing, which would then be downgraded.
Now, Marel Poultry has made it possible to individually assess each drummette or wingette of each right and left wing. If, for example, only the left second joint is damaged, the first joint part can still be processed as an ‘A’ grade item. This will dramatically help to secure quality consistency and increase wing yields.
The wing part assessment and distribution process can be integrated into an ACM-NT cut-up line. Vision grading, advanced software and logistics all play an important role. Q-Wing consists of IRIS cameras, a new Innova PDS control module (Wing Distribution Module) and a specific layout of (partly existing) cutting modules and conveyor belts for receiving the cut parts.
If the cut-up line or the distribution line already features an IRIS NT system, it can be used for wing part assessment as well. Basically these cameras–each one committed to front side or back side inspection–do the same as elsewhere in the plant: detecting fractures, bruises and blood spots. What is different is the focus on specific wing parts.
If IRIS has detected a defect in a second joint, this part is cut selectively in the Wing Joint Cutting module and ends up in the ‘B’ grade product stream. ‘A’ grade second joints end up in a separate product stream, straight to downstream processes or packing stations.
As a last step, processors can decide to cut ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade whole wings or first joints in the Wing Cutting modules.
Once this selective wing cutting has been done, sophisticated logistics follow. Multiple conveyor belts can be installed at the outfeed of the wing cutting modules, leading to separate packing stations for the different ‘A’ grade and ‘B’ grade wing parts. Such an accurate sorting procedure reduces considerably the amount of products to be trimmed.
Processors can choose what they want to do with the flow of ‘B’ grade products. Wing parts with bruises can be upgraded by sending them for marination.
The increasing value of wing products makes investment in a proper grading and distribution solution worthwhile. Q-Wing logistics give better product flows. In principle, it can handle 60,000 wing parts per hour [1,000 ppm] when processing 15,000 bph [250 bpm].
Normally, such volumes would mean a lot of people. Q-Wing, however, does away with the need for manual quality grading. It can save the operators who are currently assessing, sorting and reworking wings.
Q-Wing not only saves labor but also removes the subjective human element from the grading process. It makes confident objective decisions in all situations. Having been confronted with a batch of poor quality product, operators will be inclined to grade a slightly better batch as being of ‘good’ quality. IRIS, however, remains objective and, based on a strict ‘10 red pixel’ limit, will also grade this second batch as bad. Human assessment can leave room for doubt often leading to manual rework.
Q-Wing, however, ensures objective, fast automated grading. It sorts product into ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades immediately and directs them to their correct destinations with minimal human involvement.
Q-Wing automation makes wing processing much easier. Product flows are consistently smooth and reliable. When processors guarantee consistent top quality, they can get better prices for their ‘A’ grade wing products.