<p>Moving from manual to automated processing</p>

Poultry markets keep growing around the world. Particularly in Africa and Asia, processors are expected to account for as much as 80% of the increase in broiler meat production by 2050. In these markets, growth will come from new entrants to industrialized broiler processing and from the expansion of existing processors.

Starting a processing plant

At low throughputs, broilers are processed in batches with products being passed by hand from one manual process to the next. Above a certain daily capacity, processing chicken in this way becomes hard work and a logistical headache. Industrial processing in a purpose-built processing plant will usually become viable once a sufficient customer base has been built up to justify the processing of some 500 broilers per hour.

Modular systems

<p>When the time comes to expand, Marel Poultry’s systems turn out to be excellent investments, as they are modular expandable and allow for an easy transition to higher capacities. The overhead conveyor system will have to be extended to accommodate extensions to existing equipment and provide space for additional operatives. As the conveyor will have to run faster, the bleed trough will have to be lengthened and the scald tank made larger. Both systems are modular and their extension straightforward.</p> <p>It will also be necessary to add an additional plucker. It could be that at this stage the processor wants to change his scalding and plucking process to be able to supply high quality air-chilled fresh product. This will mean a longer scald at a lower temperature and even more plucking capacity.</p>

Overhead conveyor

Moving to an industrial process has many advantages. The heart of this process is an overhead conveyor system which takes broilers automatically from one stage of the process to the next. It is made up from standard individual components, which give almost limitless layout flexibility. Broilers are presented, suspended from shackles in a constant flow and at a convenient height to the operatives who have to work on them. This makes their jobs easier and allows them both to work more efficiently and be effectively supervised at the same time.


Depending of local cultural or religious requirements, starting processors can opt for a killing procedure with or without stunning. When the decision has been made to stun the birds, an electrical water bath stunner is the perfect solution. Marel’s water bath stunners can be adjusted to all types and weights of poultry at various line speeds. The number of modules depend on line speed and the chosen stunning regime.

Scalding and plucking

Certain processes such as bleed out, scalding and plucking are time dependent. A conveyor-based process ensures that the timings for these operations are always correct. Accurate temperature control and forceful agitation of the scald water are essential requirements of the scalding process, ensuring both an efficient pluck and consistently good final product presentation. An <u>air agitated scald tank</u> with electronic temperature control provides both. The mechanical <u>plucker</u> which follows can be set precisely to the size of broiler being processed. All products are plucked to the same standard.

Manual evisceration

Evisceration can be broken into individual steps, each carried out by a different operative. Initially, such an evisceration line can be operated completely manually. Venting and lung removal will be done using dedicated vacuum-assisted hand tools. Once all evisceration operations are complete, legs are cut off automatically, each precisely to the same length. Yield, quality and food safety all benefit.

Automating evisceration

<p>Depending on the cost and availability of local labor, automatic evisceration will often become worth considering once hourly capacity exceeds 2,000 birds per hour. As two crucial operations, venting and lung removal, will already have been efficiently taken care of using dedicated tools, the first fully automatic machine will usually be a carousel eviscerator. The Nuova Coretech draws the viscera pack cleanly out of the carcass and deposits it over its back, allowing edible giblets to be harvested manually.  At this stage two separate overhead conveyor systems will be needed; one for killing, scalding and plucking, the other for evisceration. This is because the automatic eviscerator has been designed to handle products with the feet already cut off and works with its own dedicated shackle, which is different to the shackle used for killing, scalding and plucking. Initially at least, products will be re-hung manually to the evisceration line.</p> As capacity increases, further automation such as automatic transfer from the kill line, fully automatic vent cutting and vent opening, neck removal and neck flap cleaning, final inspection and inside/outside washing can gradually be added. <br />Higher throughputs will also mean that attention has to be paid to dealing with the larger quantities of processing waste. Marel Poultry will happily advise on the right system for the job.

Chilling, weighing and packing

<img src="https://marel.datadwell.com/object/details/48842/Screw_chiller_Sedima.jpg" alt="" /><img src="https://marel.datadwell.com/object/details/48842/Screw_chiller_Sedima.jpg" alt="" />Once products have been plucked and eviscerated, they must be chilled. How this is done will depend on how they are to be brought to market. If fresh, they will be chilled by air in a chilling tunnel; if deep frozen, they will be chilled by water in a counterflow screw chiller. Screw chillers are modular and can be extended easily. <p>Once chilled, products must be graded, weighed and packed. Some product will be cut into portions.</p> <p>Initially, most operations will be carried out manually at work stations equipped with scales and bagging or other packing aids. At this stage, the equipment supplier’s main task will be to advise on good packing room layouts. Products should move smartly through the area to the cold store and should not be allowed to accumulate in unnecessary and unwelcome buffers.</p> As hourly throughputs climb, processors will graduate through belt graders, such as the Compact Grader, to a dedicated selection and distribution line, where whole products are graded, weighed and distributed automatically according to programs set by management. A further advantage of such a system is that it provides valuable information on the individual weight and quality grade of each product handled.

Technical back-up

As more and more automatic equipment is installed, its correct operation and maintenance becomes ever more important. This is where the technical and technological knowledge, long-term experience and the broad range of skills, which Marel Poultry can bring to the table, really come into their own. Service contracts ensure that equipment is kept in tiptop condition. Ongoing on-site training of the processor’s technicians increases both their skill levels and confidence. In Marel’s case, back-up can come from both locally and HQ based engineers ably supported by a help desk, which is staffed round the clock. Many issues can be solved quickly and efficiently in this way.

Invaluable advice

<p>Marel Poultry can offer invaluable advice to newcomers to industrial processing and to processors wishing to expand their business. Marel Poultry can help with the design and finish of the building and its various departments, with suitable equipment and its layout and with the provision of the services. This help will also include attention to important concepts such as animal welfare, CO2 footprint and sustainability.</p> <p>With decades of experience of processing in many different parts of the world and with their knowledge of the local market, Marel Poultry will often be able to advise on what products it will most profitable to make. Advice will also include the best way of dealing with the waste which the plant will generate. Blood, feathers and soft inedible offal, for example, can readily be processed into by-products which can earn additional money.</p> Most importantly of all, newcomers and growing businesses should be encouraged to think ambitiously. 500 birds per hour could quite quickly become 1,000 birds per hour or much more. The building and its departments should therefore be laid out to allow for easy expansion.


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