“We’re relying on technology”

Michael Crump of Wayne Sanderson Farms talks about developments in the industry

AMF I Overview

Michael Crump, senior director of fresh operations with Wayne Sanderson Farms, talks about the technical progress that’s entering the poultry processing plant more and more. “We’re relying on technology, whereas in past years we weren’t. And that’s going to make us much better, more efficient and hopefully it will reduce cost.“

[Extracts taken from the MeatingPlace MeatingPod podcast]

Michael Crump talks about the most exciting developments in poultry processing automation during his career. “Thinking back to the beginning of my career, in the evisceration department, a lot of work was still being done by hand at much slower speeds. At that time, we were running 70 or 90 birds a minute, but it was a very manually intensive process. But soon after that, we started getting the fully automated evisceration lines. We eliminated the need for manual processes within those lines, and now we can run those lines at 140 birds a minute very efficiently, with much fewer people and easier jobs. And now, with the line speed waivers that have come through over the last few years, we’re able to run 140 bpm very efficiently.”

We’re using a lot of bone detection in all of our processes. That X-ray technology really gives us better end results

Michael Crump
Senior Director of Fresh Operations at Wayne Sanderson Farms LLC

Deboning developments

Michael Crump saw other big improvements in the deboning department. “For years, we’ve done that manually and those are difficult jobs that require a lot of people. But over the last ten years, we definitely have had some advancements. The yields have gone up considerably, while the contamination and the risk of bones have decreased.

As for dark meat, that’s doing really well for us. We have thigh deboning, which has been around for a while. That technology has significantly improved over the last few years.”

X-ray technology

Another important development in poultry processing was the introduction of X-ray technology, according to Michael Crump. “There was a time where X-ray technology was kind of a premium, whereas now it’s almost become an expected part of the process and rightfully so. We’re using a lot of bone detection in all of our processes, whether it’s behind a manual line or behind an automated line. That X-ray bone detection technology really gives us better end results.

From a food safety standpoint, it has made us more efficient. We’re able to run every piece of meat through the X-ray and reject anything that has a defect. We’re able to detect any foreign material like a metal object, whether that’s a piece of metal that came off of equipment or from an overhead structure, or anything of that nature.
Something that we certainly will incorporate in the future, is equipment that detects hard plastic, wood and glass. In terms of preventing any food safety risk, there’s a lot of good development in foreign material detection technology.

Another factor is simply the cost to rework any material that might potentially be contaminated or to throw away any contaminated product that can’t be reworked. In the worst case, if it does happen, you end up having to do a recall, which certainly becomes expensive for the company.”

SensorX bone detection machine

Vision technology

“Technology that will evolve too is the detection of more defects, blood spots or any other kind of defect. If we can use the vision technology that’s already available and incorporate that step into our processes, we can simply detect and remove defective products automatically.”

Collecting data for distribution

Michael Crump continues about the progress made in software. “What we are already doing for a while is capturing the weight of the product prior to the automated equipment, to distribute it by size. I think we’re getting better at applying it and becoming more creative in how it can improve our processes.

When birds enter the process, there’s a natural bell curve. In terms of weight distribution, you have smaller birds, the middle of the bell curve and bigger birds. If you simply send that bell curve to one piece of equipment and expect it to perform as well as a manual process, then you’ll have yield losses or even possible bone contamination. By weighing the product prior to the automated deboning, you can send the smaller birds to one machine, send the medium birds to a different process, and the bigger birds to another separate machine. This is a much more accurate way of working. The yields will be much better, with less risk of bone contamination. It’s a big opportunity to utilize that data ahead of the deboning equipment, to get a better end result.”

Streamline Poultry


“Another spot where we use data in the process is at the portioning or trim table. We gather the weight of the raw material that we’re sending to that table, and we also weigh the finished product when it leaves the process. By doing that, we’re able to track our yields.
By having individual stations on these trim tables, we’re also able to track trim or portioning performance on an individual level. Not only are we able to collect and manage the quality and the throughput of the line, but we’re also able to manage the quality and the throughput of the individual people working on the line. That’s because we can capture the right data and use it to our benefit.”

Capturing real-time data on the floor

“We’ve also started capturing quality data on the floor in real-time. We have our QA [Quality Assurance] technicians out on the floor with tablets. Before, we did quality checks and wrote it all down on paper to go to the office and enter the data at the end of the shift. Now, we’re collecting the data on the floor and entering it on a tablet in real-time. We’re able to capture that information as it’s happening. That really becomes important when you think about finished product standards and weight specs that are associated with some of our customers.

It can ensure in real-time that we have compliance, but also alert us if there is a deviation or if we get out of compliance. We can stop the process at that point, and we’ve got a much smaller sample of faulty products to address or rework. Real-time data collection will help us make better decisions quicker in a more efficient manner.”

Company website: waynefarms.com

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