The Don Pollo Business Group has been investing in technology and automation at its new processing plant in Armenia in Colombia. This strategy is fully in line with the business objectives of the group, which is to lead the Colombian poultry sector with top quality fresh products.
Two years ago when Don Pollo decided to invest in a new poultry processing plant, it chose to automate the slaughter, evisceration, grading and cutting processes. It is now one of the most modern plants in Colombia.
“When we decided to automate our processing plant, we looked at different solutions and opted for Marel Poultry, because we think it’s the best equipment on the market,” says Juan Carlos Uribe, president of the Don Pollo Business Group. “Since installing the systems in our plant, we’ve had no problems at all.
On the contrary, Marel Poultry gives us the support we need to grow.” The plant comprises a complete slaughter line and a Stork Nuova evisceration system with automated giblet harvesting and a cross cut Opening Machine. There are also two IRIS vision grading systems (front and back), a Stork SmartWeigher grading and distribution system with TR-1G automatic transfer as well as an ACM-NT cut-up line.
YELLOW AND WHITE CHICKEN
The way the system is set up allows the company to alternate production. “Today, 60% of our production is country chicken, a high quality product for which we run the line at 6,000 bph [100 bpm]. For white chicken, we run at 9,000 bph [150 bpm],” says Uribe. Don Pollo offers a wide range of diverse end products, such as whole yellow and white chicken, cuts and – a recent development–gourmet marinated wings and sausages.
THE RIGHT MOMENT FOR AUTOMATION
The new facility was built next to the old plant, where processing was done manually. “Manual processing requires a lot of manpower. In the last six years, Colombia has seen a strong trend towards fewer agricultural jobs and increased migration of our workforce to the large cities. Our automation came at the best moment; we now have fewer people involved in the process. These employees must, however, be more skilled and specialized,” says the president of the group. “Our automation came at the best moment.”
A SUDDEN SWITCH
“When the new plant started processing, the old plant was de-commissioned. Don Pollo made an ‘overnight’ switch from processing 4,000 bph [66 bpm] manually to a 9,000 bph [150 bpm] automated process. This was a big step when taken together with all the new equipment and a new company structure. To make it a success, the whole team needed to radically change its way of thinking,” says Peter Snoeyenbos, Marel Poultry General Manager for the Andean Region.
Garvilio Mejia Garcia, Don Pollo project and maintenance manager says, “After-sales service has been excellent! Experienced Marel Poultry field technicians helped us solve all issues as they happened and also trained our own team.” Don Pollo and Marel Poultry contracted a maintenance level agreement (SLA) providing regular checks on all equipment. “Following the schedules set by Marel Poultry, we feel much more confident in doing the preventative maintenance and the line checks ourselves,” says Garvilio.
For Juan Carlos Uribe, real-time information is essential for decisionmaking. “The installation of Innova PDS has allowed us to evaluate real time and in more detail how efficiently we operate, leading to better decision making.” This was also a key argument for choosing IRIS. Garvilio continues, “We were looking for a solution that could accurately determine the percentage of defects in the products. When we heard of the IRIS system, we visited a plant in Chile and were surprised at the results obtained with the equipment. Once installed, our IRIS system allowed us and the farms to take the necessary action to reduce our percentage of downgrades.”
ABOUT DON POLLO
The Don Pollo Business Group is a family business, consisting of three companies; Aliagro, Don Felipe and Don Pollo. It is a vertical integration including hatching, feeding and growing, slaughtering and marketing high quality fresh poultry products. With over 35 years in the Colombian market and employing around 1,050 people, the group has more than thirty sales points and supply centers.
20% of production is sold locally (Armenia and the surrounding area), 80% goes to distribution centers which then ship fresh products to supermarkets and restaurants across the country. The group also has its own chain with more than 30 stores selling product under the Don Pollo brand.