Runs like clockwork
The Irish processor Shannon Vale Foods currently processes 5,000 broilers per hour [83 bpm] of an average live weight of 2kg [4.4 lbs]. The company commissioned its ATLAS system at the beginning of May. “It runs just like clockwork”, is the proud comment of Kieran O’Regan, owner and CEO of Shannon Vale. Mr. O’Regan continues, “Although we had bought Marel equipment in the past, this was the first time we had approached Marel for equipment for our primary process. “So far we are very impressed. We definitely made the right decision.”
The heart of the system is the Marel SmartStack transport module. SmartStack consists of a pallet, which doubles as a tray and a number of self-nesting trays placed on top of one another. “Our catchers love the new modules. These can now be placed anywhere in the growing house, even in corners or close to walls. The large opening of the SmartStack tray makes catching and loading much easier. We are already seeing a drop in the number of DOAs and downgrades arriving at our processing plant.”
Fewer truck trips
The SmartStack pallet doubles as an additional tier, allowing SmartStack to accommodate up to 38% more birds. Mr. O’Regan says, “We are delighted with this highly innovative feature. Our trucks make fewer trips, saving fuel as well reducing our carbon footprint! Birds benefit too. Even the biggest have more than adequate headroom. Thanks to the excellent tray floor design, birds get a good flow of air, sit dry and can hold tight on our winding roads.”
On arrival at the processing plant, birds rest up in a new lairage. Mr O’Regan comments again: “Our vets can now inspect birds more easily. The detachable side panels make helping any distressed birds simple.” Whenever SmartStack modules have to be moved, they are picked up two at a time. Mr. O’Regan comments, “We have been able to cut fork lift movements in the lairage by two thirds compared with previously, saving time and improving safety too.”
The ATLAS in-plant system consists of just three automatic operations; destacking full trays, washing and then re-stacking empty trays. DOAs are removed immediately after destacking. Mr. O’Regan comments, “Shackling birds is now much easier. We used to need four or five tray movements to clear a tray. Now we need only one. Birds benefit too, as they are not pushed and jolted.”
Just as effective
Mr. O’Regan emphasized that “The speed of the trays on the system are gradual making the process easier to handle – we have much better control with ATLAS.” Now the birds are ready for the first in-line process, which is electrical stunning. Shannon Vale chose to stay with electrical water bath stunning for now and shows that this solution is just as effective as controlled atmosphere stunning. It’s a question of priorities which system is preferred.
Empty trays are conveyed to an automatic washing installation. The SmartStack module has no frame and trays have no blind spots, making for easy cleaning. The washing installation has a large number of precisely targeted nozzles, ensuring that trays leave the system entirely clean. Washed trays are re-assembled automatically into SmartStack modules.
Kieran O’Regan has warm words about the co-operation with Marel. “Right from the start, your installation guys were courteous and helpful, showed excellent knowledge of the equipment and communicated very well with our production and maintenance people, Marel should be very proud to have such a good team.” Shannon Vale is optimistic about the future. The ATLAS in-plant installation has been designed for a possible doubling of throughput, which would also allow the installation of controlled atmosphere stunning.
About Shannon Vale
Shannon Vale Foods is a family poultry processing business based in Clonakilty not far from the Irish city of Cork. Shannon Vale processes 200,000 birds per week in an ultra-modern factory employing some 180 people. Most birds processed are commercial broilers. The company also processes organic and free range birds and offers Halal product.
Most birds are processed into added value products including breaded flash fried, marinated and basted and fully cooked products, which Shannon Vale develops and supplies to major Irish multiples. The company also offers a full range of fresh and frozen whole birds and portions.