Unique automation of duck cut-up

ACM-NT features flexible, modular duck portioning


Duck portions make a really special meal and are becoming an increasingly common sight on the world’s dinner tables. Breast fillet, both skinless and skin-on, and legs are the most popular, although there is often a ready market for wings and crowns (bone-in front halves without wings) too. Portions are often marinated, smoked or roasted to give a tasty and convenient snack or meal component.

Marel is able to offer duck processors an automatic modular in-line cut-up system capable of handling up to 6000 ducks per hour (100 dpm) of up to 2.8 kg (6.2 lb) eviscerated weight. The ACM-NT system, developed specially for ducks, is the only one of its kind currently on the market and will handle both air and water chilled products. At this moment the new system is in successful everyday operation with duck processors in Australasia, the British Isles, Russia and Central Europe.

Flexible, modular and precise

ACM-NT uses the unique Sigma overhead conveyor; its layout is infinitely flexible. Systems can be configured to suit the exact processing and layout requirements of each individual plant. A combination of the unique ACM-NT shackle and turning mechanisms within the system allows products to be held and positioned perfectly for each cutting operation, resulting in optimum yield as well as top presentation and quality. The system is fully modular. If and when processing requirements change, modules can be moved or added.


cut up duck

Typical cuts

ACM-NT for ducks will cut carcasses into wing, front half and whole anatomic leg portions. If required, wings can be cut into separate inner and middle joint portions. In some markets wings are cut with back meat, breast meat or both attached. ACM-NT’s wing cutter can be set to give these options too.

Front halves are usually filleted manually on a cone deboning line. Where a second line is installed, a Marel SmartLine grader can be used to feed each deboning line with a regular flow of sized front halves, ensuring that this important job is done as efficiently as possible. If required, the ACM-NT system can also cut breast caps. 

Butcher quality

Users are particularly impressed by the high quality of the legs cut by the system; yield and presentation are as good as when legs are butchered manually. The secret of the ACM-NT’s JL anatomic leg module is that it “pulls” rather than cuts legs from the back half. Legs retain their natural shape and there is no damage to the hip bone.


Combined line

An ACM-NT duck cut-up line can be extended upstream to accommodate a QS3 quality grading station and a SmartWeigher. In this situation, ACM-NT becomes a combined whole carcass distribution and cut-up line. On exit from the chiller, carcasses would be rehung to the ACM-NT carrier and immediately weighed and graded for quality. Automatic release stations ahead of the cutting modules would unload sized and graded carcasses needed for whole bird orders. All remaining carcasses would be cut.

A combined line has a number of advantages. Carcasses no longer need to be rehung between separate processing lines, saving labor and space. A combined line also makes for a more hygienic process as product is kept in line, keeping hand to product to a minimum and preventing the build-up of buffers. 

Optimal management

To improve processing efficiency still further, the combined line could be controlled by a single Innova PDS system. As ACM-NT cutting modules are selectively by-passable, plant management could use Innova PDS to determine exactly how each carcass is cut, also which carcasses to release for sale whole. Quite simply, Innova PDS enables processors to match incoming carcasses in the most profitable way possible to incoming orders for whole and cut product.

Capacity, yield and quality

ACM-NT is an extremely valuable and versatile tool for duck processors everywhere. It can save labor, an increasingly important issue as hourly capacities climb. It does this, however, without compromising in any way the yield or presentation of the end product. In short, this system can truly transform the overall efficiency of a duck portioning operation.


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