These requirements—and more—were met with a StreamLine processing system supplied by Marel. Marcher now has two such installations in operation at its slaughterhouse and processing plant in Graz, Austria.
Lot traceability is a major issue for Marcher, because the company’s production set-up faces the challenge of handling between 50 and 80 different lots daily. As a result of its location in the middle of Europe, the company has a large number of suppliers of cattle from Austria and EU.
Each combination of where the animal was born and raised e.g. Austria/ Italy, Austria/Austria, etc. is considered a “lot”. In addition, Marcher operates with a sales strategy of being flexible enough to reflect customer demands and market trends.
This involves processing many different kinds of cattle—including veal calves, heifers and castrates—in addition to registering and dealing with multiple animal characteristics that include breed, geographical origin and raising and organic rearing.
A major part of Marcher’s customers consists of large Austrian and international supermarket chains that market their products on the basis of a range of different criteria, rather than just price. These can include regional origin, quality, organic rearing, etc.
This in turn places heavy demands on the information provided. “To provide product information clearly and reliably, it is important to gather traceability data for the label, as that is the customer’s quality guarantee,” points out company owner Norbert Marcher.
The StreamLine works well with traceability and provides us with a system to organise our set-up with real-time processing information. With as many lots and types as we have, it would be difficult to handle logistics and product information with a conventional deboning and trimming system., Norbert Marcher, company owner - Marcher
The first deboning hall system was designed and set up early 2009 to register and monitor the deboning, cutting and trimming of hind quarters. Based on the positive results from this first line, Marcher chose six months later to install a second StreamLine system for the trimming and cutting of fore quarters.
After slaughter, the carcasses are registered, graded and labeled according to country of origin and quality, after which they are sent to chill stock.
When the carcasses are taken out of the chill stock into the deboning area, the label—containing information such as type, place of birth, farm, age, grade, classification as well as in-house data such as the colour of meat—is scanned into the deboning and trimming system.
Based on this information, the specific pistol, rib or other section is weighed in and allocated to a cutdown line for pre-break and deboning.
When registered into the system, a range of different cutting patterns are already specified for each particular product – i.e. how it is going to be deboned and trimmed on the StreamLine. The primals from deboning and break up are distributed, based on operator availability, to one of the work stations of the two StreamLine systems, where they are cut, trimmed and skinned according to specifications.
The specifications are shown to the operator on a terminal by his trimming station. The weight of the trim, fat and finished product is registered and compared to the incoming weight for throughput and yield calculation. The finished products are sent to labeling and automatic vacuum packing, after which they are led to a finished goods area.
Yield, throughput, cutting performance and other key performance indicators (KPIs) are automatically registered and monitored for the entire line as well as for the individual operator, using the Innova intelligent control software.
Being able to see and monitor information from the production line gives the management at Marcher a good overview of what is taking place, along with the opportunity to take corrective action and make changes to the set-up.
Plant Manager, Jörg Mai was involved in the set-up of the StreamLine systems from the start, and knows them inside out.
“With the Innova reporting system we are able to monitor yield from input to output as well as individual operator performance. We use the daily reports to analyse things like line and individual performance for the day and week, and to make changes if needed. Group yield like you see on traditional processing lines is OK, but individual operator monitoring is necessary to really optimise the utilisation of the many products. You cannot leave it to the individual operators—no matter how good they are—to decide how to get the best from the incoming products. An intelligent, computer controlled system is needed for that.”
As Norbert Marcher adds, “With the reporting system we are also better at producing special orders for customers because our sales department knows exactly what is available at all times. Without the Innova reporting set-up it wouldn’t be possible to keep track of the many products in our production to the same degree. Now we get accurate real-time information in just one click.”
Another highlight of the Marel deboning and trimming system is the very high standards of ergonomics built into the processing lines. With a bonepull system, the deboning operators have been given a more ergonomically correct work position.
At the trimming line, the operators no longer have to focus on what products are coming up, or to reach for products – instead they are automatically led to each operator’s work station. This means that the job is less hard and less stressful for the operators, and that repetitive strain injuries have almost been done away with.
Jörg Mai also points out one more major benefit. “The individual operator monitoring capabilities that the StreamLine systems provide us with have a positive effect on the workers. The system monitors how fast and efficient each operator is and whether he is above or below the average for the team as a whole. By being able to see this performance, each individual operator knows how well he is performing simply by checking his terminal. Each operator gets a standard agreed wage, but if he performs better than the target he’ll get more. This serves as an important incentive, as his performance has a direct effect on his salary.”
Norbert Marcher GesmbH is a family-run business, with facilities in Villach, Graz and Klagenfurt in Austria. The company was established in 1929 and is now run by the third generation of the Marcher family.
The company comprises three abattoirs and one specialized cutting facility, and employs a staff of more than 560. Each year approx 850,000 head of pork and 110,000 head of beef are slaughtered in the three facilities. Two thirds of the amount produced is exported worldwide to large supermarket chains.