Push – the growing farm
Both “push” and “pull” factors will influence carcass balance. Firstly, the “push” factor! As live birds reach term, they have to be processed. Their supply will have been planned well in advance on the basis of “intelligent” forecasts. A forecast is, however, just that and no more.
For any number of reasons the spread of weights within a flock could deviate from standard and demand from the market on the day of processing could be subtly different from expectations. The process can’t, however, stop just because the situation has changed!
Pull – the market
And now for the “pull” factor! Customers are sometimes capricious and can change their orders at the last minute! These orders will depend on a number of factors such as the state of the economy, how people are feeling, the time of year, even the weather. Some of these factors are more predictable than others.
Supermarket promotions will also cause problems. Stimulating demand for breast fillet also means more legs and wings, for which a profitable home must be found. To improve carcass balance, processors will have to work on both “push” and “pull factors.
Processors have no choice but to process the live birds they receive from the farm. To make intelligent decisions on how to meet customer orders and take remedial action on any surpluses or shortfalls, processors need to know exactly what they have as early as possible in the process.
Using technology readily available, processors can have a detailed breakdown of saleable products by flock, weight and quality grade as early as the end of the evisceration process. Given that product can be in the maturation air chiller for three hours or more, management has this amount of early warning if incoming products are a poor match for the day’s orders.
IRIS vision systems and SmartWeigher weighing installations from Marel are examples of such technology. These can be installed in both defeathering and evisceration lines. Information from them on each individual product is supplied realtime to intelligent Innova software. Full traceability throughout the process is therefore guaranteed.
Most profitable form
The need to take effective remedial action means that processes must be supple and flexible. It should be quick and easy to change processing programs from making one product to making another. Today’s technology allows products to be tracked from live bird hang-on through to the end of the process.
According to weight and quality grade and customer orders, each individual incoming product can be allocated electronically for sale whole or for cut-up and deboning, to where it can be put into its most profitable form. Cutting and deboning regimes can also be programmed electronically. Should it be necessary to change any of these programs, this can be done in an instant by pressing a button or touching a screen.
Automation wins every time
An automatic process is much more flexible than a manual one. In many countries of the world finding people willing to work in a processing plant is difficult if not impossible. People are also often expensive, particularly when it comes to skilled tasks such as deboning breasts and legs.
Automatic deboning systems can handle much higher hourly throughputs. It is also easy to reduce or increase these to match demand from the market. Much higher productivity means lower costs per unit deboned, making automatically deboned meat more accessible both as a raw product for sale retail and as a base for further processed items.
Anatomy limits the possibilities for perfect carcass balance, as products can only be cut and deboned in a finite number of ways. Today’s modular cut-up and deboning systems offer processors the option of making the widest possible range of end products within the constraints set by Mother Nature. To give further flexibility when programming its cut-up system, Marel splits products into wing, front and back half components. Each is then allocated its own cutting regime.
Although live bird supply (the “push” factor) is relatively inflexible, processors have access to the information and automation to help them make the best of things.