The importance of data capture

From embedded machine software to factory-wide decision-making tools

Impaqt Transfer Sensor

In the poultry processing industry, data collection has been there from the very beginning. It couldn’t have been otherwise, as a poultry processor has always needed data for informed decision making. It all started with bird and flock counts registered by a mechanical counter and written down.

Over the years, data capture technology has moved forward, becoming increasingly digitalized. This has been welcomed by processors for whom optimum production efficiency has always been paramount. 
At the same time, consumers too have become more demanding, wanting to know precisely where their chicken has come from, how it has been processed and that it is safe to eat. In many markets food safety regulations have become more stringent, causing retailers and fast-food chains to insist on full product-by-product traceability.

Traceability from the start

In today’s fast-moving world, processors have to make quick, smart decisions. These can only be made using data capture, which is complete, accurate and up-to-date, ensuring that customers always get the right product at the right time. In short, smart decision-making is essential for production efficiency.
For full product-by-product traceability, increasingly insisted upon by both retailers and fast-food chains, data collection will always start with the live birds delivered to the processing plant. Such data will include detailed information on the farm where broilers have come from and on their journey to the processing plant.  

Live Bird Product Sensor

Two levels of software

Data capture relies on certain hardware being present in the processing plant. Marel examples are sensors, IRIS vision systems and SmartWeigher weigh stations. IRIS vision systems can be used to grade products by quality or to help veterinarians determine the health status of a flock. SmartWeigher can weigh products at multiple points during the primary and secondary processes. Each time a product in a shackle passes through IRIS or SmartWeigher, the grade and weight information recorded stays with that particular shackle.

Marel software operates at two levels. The lower tier comprises interconnected equipment, which uses embedded software (IoT) to communicate. The higher tier is Marel Innova, an analytical tool and an aid to decision-making.

SmartBase and IMPAQT

Software is increasingly embedded in individual machines, Nuova-i and SensorX being good examples. This software is known as SmartBase and reports on the technical health of the machine concerned. This information is stored on a touchscreen at the machine itself, in a central control room or on a cloud, where it can be accessed from any mobile device and shared with Marel service technicians. Technical issues can be addressed promptly, often without the need for the technician to visit. Uptime benefits from such “connected” equipment.    

IMPAQT is the Marel equivalent of an OEE system. Using information gathered from Marel hardware during the process, it continuously monitors availability, performance and quality, helping processing plants run at maximum production efficiency.

Nuova I Door Chicken Tablet Ipad Hand Smartbase

Modular decision-making

Innova is the Marel MES system (Manufacturing Execution System). It receives its data from Marel and other hardware, which it stores in a well-protected, but easy manageable SQL database (Structured Query Language). Innova is a modular system, with modules available for all kinds of purposes, including yield and quality control, order management, inventory management and product-by-product traceability. As Innova is modular, processors do not have to buy all modules at once but can start where the need is greatest and extend later.

Each module presents its information on configurable dashboards, which can be located in a central control room. Eventually, such a control room will be the heart of the data capture process, collecting all data at one single point and enabling data-driven decision-making.

Innova helps

Many processors begin by enlisting Innova to help them make the most of their valuable raw material, executing customer orders correctly and on time. Innova provides accurate information real-time on what has been produced, broken down as required. It also ensures that each carcass reaches its most profitable destination always bearing in mind outstanding customer orders and their order of priority.

Innova also helps processors achieve top yields and quality. Historical and current information can be compared and any unwelcome deviations spotted and acted upon immediately. Where products are cut and trimmed by hand, Innova, paired with the appropriate Marel hardware, can identify operators whose performance is below par. These operators can then be given further training and encouraged to catch up with the best performers. Importantly, Innova helps keep giveaway to a minimum during manual cutting or trimming.

Smart decisions can only be made using data capture, which is complete, accurate and up-to-date.

Poultry Processing Solutions IRIS

Upgraded data gathering

Data gathering can often be combined with the addition of more functionality. For example, incorporating a weighing point after breast deboning can serve as a yield measurement as well as automating the distribution of fillets to various packing destinations and downstream processes. Data collection benefits. So does the process itself.
A full plant-wide Innova system will also monitor and oversee warehouse management and dispatch, ensuring that these two departments operate at top efficiency. In those plants, where product is further processed, Innova can also monitor the receipt and handling of raw materials.

For connection to a higher ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, Marel offers its Integration Services module. This module provides seamless two-way communication and ensures all data collected is made available to this top tier and relevant data passed back to it.

Artificial Intelligence

Marel will quickly expand the number of intelligent IoT machines in key processes. Such intelligence will provide more insight into the internal workings of the machine in question and reduce the dependency on expensive skilled labor, which is in short supply. As with the recently launched Nuova-i eviscerator, it could also allow settings for different flock sizes to be changed at the push of a touchscreen button with no need for a mechanic to intervene. “Intelligence” will not just satisfy the increasing need for data-driven decision-making. It will also allow processors to get the very best out of critical equipment at all times.

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Artificial Intelligence will also be used to optimize automated order allocation software, ensuring that orders are always fulfilled with products that are the very best match. Importantly, AI will trawl increasing amounts of data to find new trends and possibilities for improvement, which it can do far faster than a human being. 


At Marel, data capture is about more than providing accurate and up-to-date material for reports. Data capture does a lot more, such as giving real-time insight into performance, availability and quality, ensuring that processors operate as effectively as possible and getting the most out of the Marel equipment they have installed.


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