Customer story

Deboning and trimming lines form backbone at Las Piedras

31 May 2012

Uruguayan company Las Piedras believes in being innovative and seizing the opportunity, a policy which has resulted in a successful state-of-the-art beef processing plant with a slaughter capacity of 1000 head per day and an export rate that equals 10% of the country’s total beef export. Five Marel deboning and trimming lines are installed at Las Piedras, forming an impressive backbone for the deboning room.

As a pioneer in the Uruguayan beef processing industry, the management of Las Piedras is always on the lookout for innovations in processing equipment and methods. So when directors Mr Jose Gonzalez and Mr Alberto Gonzales and general manager Mr Martin Bazterrica saw the Marel trimming systems in Europe and Australia, they were in no doubt that such a system would mean a new era for Las Piedras.

Partners in meat for the future

Click to enlarge
4.200 quarters are deboned, trimmed and packed per shift at Las Piedras.

“After seeing what the system did for processors in Europe and Australia, we could easily see the opportunity that we had for improving quality, logistics and traceability.” general manager, Mr Martin Bazterrica explains. “We consulted Marel and, together with their meat processing experts, we designed a full production hall catering for the future.”


The company has now installed a complete meat processing line consisting of five primary breakdown lines where the quarters are split into the main primals, five intelligent trimming lines, where performance, yield and quality are monitored by individual operator as well as the whole line, and a pack-off system. Once the product has been trimmed it is automatically conveyed to the pack-off system, where it is packed individually as part of a multi-pack, or in bulk. Each individual cut is fully traceable.


The meat processing system has a capacity of 150 animals per hour, which equals deboning 4.200 quarters per shift. “We are getting better results every day,” continues Bazterrica “and we have now begun to analyze the results of the trimming lines and see improvements in both yield and throughput.”

Click to enlarge
The INAC (Instituto Nacional de Carnes) traceability system registers parameters that include animal ID, grade and weight

Processing with a message
The system has not only given better yield results, but hygiene, product quality and the overall working environment have also improved. “Hygiene and ergonomic design were big considerations in the plant layout,” explains Marel Uruguay sales manager Ignacio Ugarte. “The system minimises strain on the operators. For example, raw material is delivered automatically to each operator allowing for uninterrupted trimming and improved productivity. This makes a huge difference.”

Traceability facilitated by INAC
Las Piedras is connected to the central trace and recall system that has been set up nationally by Uruguay’s national meat institute, Instituto Nacional de Carnes (INAC), which feeds individual animal ID traceability back to the farmer, along with information on weight, grade, production lot and other data. Marel’s is part of the INAC project, which has been recognized worldwide as an impressive and unique system for full traceability, features for which Uruguayan meat has become famous, as well as its supreme quality.

Las Piedras, Uruguay

Click to enlarge
Directors, Mr Jose Gonzalez and Mr Alberto Gonzalez

Established in 1978, Frigorifico las Piedras S.A. is a family-owned company managed personally by its owners. Employing close to 800 workers, its 25,000-square meter industrial plant is built in the midst of a farming area, 20 minutes away from the port of Montevideo. The plant has a slaughtering line for cattle with a capacity of 1,000 animals per day.