When the time is right – automation in hog slaughter has become a 'must'


Automation in hog-slaughter has become a ‘must’. Marel’s latest development is the M-Line, which is a new generation of hog kill floor automation using articulating arm robots.

With increasing speed, the red meat processing industry is changing their slaughter methods from the conventional manual handling to an automated and robot-driven process.

Over the past 15 years, the primary processing division of Marel Meat (Previously known as MPS Red Meat Slaughtering) has delivered several automated hog kill floor lines (F-Line).

These include separation of the pelvic bone, carcass opening, breastbone splitting and neck clipping. The automated F-lines are now used in many hog slaughter plants and run with capacities varying from 300 hogs per hour to 1,280 hogs per hour.

Slaughter line robots

Since the first F-line installation, Marel Meat has continued to develop automatic systems and robots for the slaughtering process. Marel’s latest development is the M-Line, which is a new generation of hog kill floor automation using articulating arm robots.

The latest techniques in 3D scanning are integrated into the M-Line robots, and ensure a high cutting accuracy. The carcasses are scanned several times with the data converted to a precise movement of the robot and the robotic tools. This action is 100% synchronized with the transport of the carcasses.

Robots with "twintool"

The majority of the M-Line robots are equipped with the patented “TwinTool” concept, which results in increased shelf life of the final pork product. In the “TwinTool” concept, each robot has a double-acting tool, meaning that when one tool is in operation, the second tool is being sterilized.

The first M-line system was installed in North America in 2013 at an existing slaughtering line processing 10.000 hogs daily. The system consists of three automatic carcass openers (pelvic bone, belly and breast) in a side-by-side execution.

This state-of-art kill floor automation has become a huge success partly because of the immediate improved hygienic conditions, the reduced maintenance requirements and spare parts consumption, and the minimised labor force needed for the slaughtering process.

Today M-Lines are found in several slaughter facilities throughout the world and with more added continuously as the benefits are realized.

Proven benefits of the M-Line automation program are:

  • Reduction of labor in the slaughtering process
  • Reduction of mistakes causing fecal and/or bile contamination
  • Yield increase because of extra harvesting of "St. Louis" type of spareribs, extra bacon bellies and added intelligence
  • Reduction of B-graded hearts
  • Reduction of the Antero counted bacteria (TPC Total Play Counts)
  • Improved shelf life of fresh chilled pork products

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