Customer story

Greenlea leads the way in hot deboning

31 May 2012

Having seen the difference that the Marel StreamLine system made to production at their Hamilton-based deboning and trimming plant, Greenlea Premier Meats wanted to implement a similar system in their hot deboning facility in Morrinsville. This has meant that the New Zealand company today is probably the most advanced processor of hot deboned beef in the world.

Installed in 2011, the Marel StreamLine system for monitoring and controlling the production of hot deboned beef gives Greenlea the absolute lead in hot deboning. “We really and truly believe in it” says Russell Shaw, plant manager - Morrinsville, who has been the leading figure in getting the system into operation.

I admit I was rather skeptical when we installed the StreamLine system in our cold deboning and trimming facility in Hamilton, but seeing the results has turned me into a true believer. The system has delivered what was promised and probably much more, and I’m in no doubt whatsoever that this was also needed in our hot boning facility.

- Russell Shaw, plant manager - Morrinsville

Some of the results referred to by Shaw at Greenlea’s Hamilton facility include yield increase, performance gains, increased output and full individual operator monitoring. Similar improvements have been experienced in the Morrinsville facility.

Believing in innovation

Greenlea is a forward-looking company constantly on the look-out for innovations and improvements in processing. One way of achieving this is by working closely together and forming a partnership with Marel. “We learned a lot from the first system, which has been of benefit in designing the second line,” continues Shaw. “For example, we’ve incorporated solid belts into the line and opted for a single-sided design for hygienic and logistic reasons. Flexibility of this kind is a big part of what our partnership with Marel is about,” he adds.

Employee involvement

Greenlea’s partnership philosophy extends further than to Marel, and the company has established a scheme by which the employees are encouraged to suggest potential points for improvement to the management every week.“We not only implement new technology,” explains Shaw. “We also look for fresh ways of improving and innovating production internally, and our workforce is a great source for doing this. This has also meant that our employees have embraced the new trimming line very easily, as they feel they really matter and are closely involved in the way we work.”

Approximately 80,000 cattle are hot deboned per year at the Greenlea Premier Meats plant in Morrinsville, New Zealand.

Improved working environment

Improved ergonomics was a high on the list of priorities when implementing the new deboning and trimming system. The Marel line has proved a success in improving the working environment, and there have been no work-related accidents since it was installed. Staff turnover has also declined, and the system has taken much of the physical hard work out of the process, as Greenlea operations manager Graham Green confirms. “We’re a close community here and we care for each other. With the improved ergonomics in the system, we can actually increase the number of years our staff can work in their trade. Good for them and good for us”

Cattle management

Working closely with the farmers supplying cattle to Greenlea is very important to efficiently manage production. “The StreamLine system enables us to work even closer with the farmers and provide them with a better service. Amongst other it provides us with reliable feedback and useful information on each carcass, including yield, breed performance and other factors.” Green concludes.

Hot deboning 

Hot boning of beef carcasses has distinct advantages over cold boning. The warm meat is soft and requires less effort to bone, occupational related stress injuries are less likely to occur. There is a potential for improved yield, and expensive chilling of fat and bones is avoided. However, there are also perceived disadvantages to hot boning. There is a potential for the meat to be tough, darker in color and, for some primals, different in shape.

In Australia and New Zealand, hot boning is usually used for carcasses with a deep-butt temperature of more than 30 °C, which are boned within 30–45 minutes of slaughter.

The basic concept of hot boning is that slaughtering, boning and packing of the meat are all conducted within the space of a single working day. An increasing number of plants are using the method due to the potential for:

  • Reduced processing time from slaughter to load out
  • Lower chilling space and other capital cost requirements
  • Reduced energy consumption and other chiller costs
  • Increased boning yield
  • Improved productivity
  • Elimination of hard fat problems
  • More rapid product turnover

The meat must be cooled quickly to below 7 °C after it is boned in order to control the growth of pathogenic bacteria. When hot boning is properly carried out, the microbiological quality of hot boned frozen or chilled meat is comparable with that of conventionally boned meat. Studies have also demonstrated that hot boned meat can reach the same level of tenderness and manufacturing functional properties as that of conventionally prepared cold boned meat.

More about Marel's Streamline System

More about Marel's deboning and trimming equipment