In 2011 Kepak saw new opportunities in the red meat retail market and decided to restructure their production accordingly. With a new value-added production, Kepak needed to rebuild and refurbish their facility in Ballymahon, Ireland. They concentrated specifically on the trimming part of the production, aiming to produce and manage trim for specific mince and burger recipes as effectively as possible.
The importance of effective trim handling
When handling trim for specific recipes, it is important that a specific target fat/lean percentage is consistently reached and for specified quantities. “Accurate manual sorting of large amounts of trim, based on the human eye to decide on the accurate fat percentage, is extremely difficult and requires very skilled employees,” explains Kepak's Ballymahon Site Manager. “So automation was an obvious choice for us.”
Impressive system set-up at Kepak
“When we started the project with Marel, we were impressed with their approach to finding the right solution for us,” says Kepak's Site Manager. "They challenged our processing methods as well as themselves on creating the best and most effective solution for us, rather than going for the easiest."
The SensorX Accuro system that Marel and Kepak developed, automates the analysis of trim for the fat/lean ratio and better enables Kepak to manage their trim and hit target fat percentages.
The set-up involves directing trim from two deboning lines to one of two infeed units – one for hind-quarter trim and one for forequarter trim. At the infeed units, two sorting operators visually pre-grade the trim by pushing the pieces – up to 5.5 kg - into one of the buffer bins (e.g. fat, medium, lean). The meat is then dropped onto a conveyor leading to the fat analysis and bone detection unit.
By scanning the meat for density variations, using X-ray technology, the precise weight and fat/lean content - Chemical Lean (CL) can be accurately determined and any hazardous contaminants embedded in the meat can be detected.
The results of each CL measurement are sent to the subsequent Trimgrader and the meat is directed to the allocated gate to form a final batch of the correct weight and fat/lean ratio, specified by the processor.
Product with hazardous contaminant is removed from the process through reject gates on the Trimgrader. The contaminants are then removed manually before passing through the system a second time.