Avícola El Carmen opts for automated processing

Modern Bolivian plant expands market share

VO Cross Cut Yellow Birds

To meet increasing local market demand, Avícola El Carmen, one of the largest poultry processors in Bolivia, decided to automate its production processes. Improved efficiency and flexibility allowed the company to expand its production of fresh and high-quality products.

Chicken meat is increasingly accessible in Bolivia and consumption is growing gradually. “Forty years ago, its price was higher than beef; chicken was only served at festivities and events. Today, it’s the most consumed product in the country,” says Oscar Céspedes, owner of Avícola El Carmen.

Rely on Marel

Due to the increase in consumption over recent years, Avícola El Carmen decided to invest in the automation of those processes that directly influence yield, throughput and final product quality. “Customers want fresh product and, in order to meet this demand, we need a fast and hygienic process,” says Oscar Céspedes, who relied on Marel’s experience to update the evisceration process, install a vision grading and overhead whole product weighing system and install a new 7,200 bph [120 bpm] cut-up line.


The first step, which started up in the second half of 2014, was the updating of the evisceration line giving a new configuration which would meet the company’s future demands. The new Marel evisceration line consists of an automatic transfer system TR-DE, a vent cutter VC-16, a VO-20 Crosscut opening machine, a Nuova 24 eviscerator, a neck and skin inspection machine and an RW-16 RS washer. The VO-20 Crosscut deserves particular comment. Marel developed this carousel exclusively for the Latin American market. With the cavity opened transversely, legs can be tucked in, a common presentation for whole grillers in South America.

Crosscut Chicken

Quality and hygiene

Using the Nuova eviscerator, El Carmen was able to double sales of fresh products in Bolivia, according to Oscar Céspedes. He explains that to achieve optimum shelf life, it is essential that the interior of the whole grillers is completely free of residual debris. The Marel line exceeded all expectations, not least thanks to the VO-20 Crosscut. “Improved product quality, hygiene and being able to present product trussed and ready for the rotisserie have lifted sales. These benefits have been well received by our customers,” says Oscar Céspedes.

Second stage

The second stage of the project, concluded in 2017, comprised the installation of an IRIS vision grading system and a SmartWeigher overhead weighing system. Together, they distribute products in the best possible way for unloading as whole birds or for processing in the cut-up line. Logically, El Carmen also decided to install a complete ACM-NT in-line cut-up system. With the cutting process now automated, the company can meet increased market demand for cut parts. If cutting was still being done manually, this would have been impossible. Oscar Céspedes continues, “Initially, our cut products accounted for approximately 10% of total production. Now that we have automated the process, we have reached around 30%.” “Being able to present product trussed and ready for the rotisserie have lifted sales.”

Third stage

In the second half of 2019, the company will begin the third stage of the project, automating giblet processing, expanding the IRIS vision systems, adding modules to the ACM cut-up line and installing a giblet vacuum transportation system.

Trusted partner

The partnership between Avícola El Carmen and Marel began a decade ago. Owner Oscar Céspedes traveled to Europe and discovered the excellent solutions offered by the company. “After we started using our first equipment, Stork in those days, we realized how reliable and robust it was. You really delivered what you promised.” When El Carmen decided to update its existing lines, the company relied on the knowledge and the good relationship with Marel to develop a project that would meet the company’s growth objectives. Oscar Céspedes concludes, “Marel offered all possible help with development of the project. Together we came up with a plan which would meet the present and future demands of our company.”

About Avícola El Carmen

More than 20 years in the market, Avícola El Carmen is a private family company located in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It specializes in poultry slaughtering and processing. The company has about 150 employees and is one of the largest poultry processors in Bolivia. It supplies distributors and its products can be found in almost all parts of the country.

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