Q-Wing – wing handling becomes smart

Making best use of every wing part while saving labor

Q Wing IRIS2

Wing products, whole wings and wings cut into their inner and middle joints – often known as drummettes, wingettes and wingsticks –, are becoming ever more popular with consumers and an increasingly important item for processors. They are the truly ideal raw material for the rapidly growing market for tasty snacks for today’s busy people on the move.

Fast food chains are particularly important buyers of wing products. They look for top quality, uniform products, precisely what their customers expect from them. As wings can be bruised or damaged, they therefore have to be inspected and downgrades removed. To ensure uniformity, trimming is sometimes necessary. Wing products must then be assembled neatly into standard weight packs.

Challenging “subjective” work

Until now sorting, trimming and packing such products has been laborious manual work. Grading them accurately has been an onerous and challenging task, as quality grading personnel must stay fully focused over longer periods of time. Manual grading is also subjective. One person’s “A” grade is another’s downgrade. What is passed as an “A” grade can also depend on the operative’s mood, the time of day and the quality of the preceding flock. In short, manual grading standards can in practice be very variable.

Automated wing grading

With its unique new Q-Wing system, Marel has brought welcome automation to wing handling. The system ensures supremely accurate, ultra-reliable grading to a totally objective and consistent standard. It also saves skilled labor and provides an excellent logistical solution for packing and reworking wing products.

Q-Wing consists of IRIS vision systems controlled by dedicated Q-Wing software, the necessary conveyor systems for keeping automatically graded wing parts separate, bulk packing stations and a rework area for the possible upgrade of product downgraded by the system. Q-Wing will handle all wing products whether whole wings or individual wing joints cut from up to 15,000 bph.

Q Wing Drop Station2

Another job for IRIS

After wings have been stretched and wing tips cut off in the ACM-NT cut-up system, each wing and its inner and middle joints are inspected front and back by two IRIS vision systems. Both systems can be installed in the ACM-NT cut-up system itself. Alternatively and for additional flexibility, one IRIS system can be installed in the ACM-NT system and one in the whole product distribution line. IRIS will pick up the smallest blemish on any part of any right or left wing, grading all products to a fixed 10 red pixel limit. Tiredness, mood or different perceptions of “A” and downgrade product can no longer influence grading performance.

Q-Wing requires separate cutting modules for “A” and “B” grade wing portions. A system catering for the separate cutting of “A” and “B” grade whole wings, inner and middle joints would therefore need six modules. Q-Wing’s software would divert each wing for cutting in the module appropriate for the quality grade assigned by IRIS.

Streamlined logistics

Graded whole wings, inner or middle wing joints fall onto the conveyor suitable for their quality grade. These conveyors then take them to packing stations. Downgraded portions can also be placed onto a conveyor for transport to the rework area for trimming and upgrading.

In high throughput plants with two ACM-NT systems, wing portions fall onto a single system of conveyors, one each for “A” and “B” grade whole wings, inner and middle joints feeding common bulk packing bins and a common rework area.

Q Wing Packing

Wing wins

Q-Wing is an important new contribution to efficient wing product handling. It removes all subjectivity from quality grading and ensures consistent standards day in day out. This can only benefit processors, as the knowledge that wings are being graded using the latest vision technology will give their customers added confidence in the products delivered to them.

As wing products no longer have to be graded manually, Q-Wing also saves skilled labor. Grading input will be limited to assessing whether products automatically downgraded by Q-Wing can be upgraded by some agile trimming work, a job that only operatives trained for this demanding work can do.

Q-Wing’s excellent logistics, designed to take up as little floor space as possible, ensure smooth, logical product flows, segregated by product type and quality grade.

With Q-Wing in place, processors can truly unlock their wing potential, ensuring that the very best use is made of each and every wing or wing part.

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