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Robot Makes the Cut at Linley Valley

by 5m Editor
10 January 2011, at 3:54pm

AUSTRALIA - Australia's first laser guided pork cutting robot has been installed, at a cost of $700,000, at Craig Mostyn Group's Linley Valley Fresh pork processing works at Wooroloo, Western Australia.


Looking pleased after the successful installation of the laser guided cutting robot at Craig Mostyn Group's Linley Valley Fresh pork processing works at Wooroloo, WA, are (L to R) Production Manager Joe Pereira, Project Manager Dean Romaniello and Agribusiness Manager and WA Pork Producers' Association President, Lui Rinaldi.

Australia's first laser guided pork cutting robot at work at Craig Mostyn Group's Linley Valley Fresh processing works, Wooroloo, WA. Highly accurate laser imaging takes precise measurements of the carcase and programs the robot to cut based on the individual pig's anatomy.

Highly accurate laser imaging takes precise measurements of the carcase and programs the robot to cut based on the individual animal's anatomical features, with cuts designed to maximise the production of high-value meat based on particular customer requirements.

Project Manager Dean Romaniello, Senior Manager, Meat and Livestock Division, Craig Mostyn Group, said that such precision cutting reduced contamination and wastage of meat due to accidental cutting of the stomach.

"Critical to the value of this laser guided H-bone saw and belly opener equipment for the evisceration line is that stomach breakage, caused by manual error, is reduced from four per cent to less than one per cent."

Based on current production levels at Linley Valley, this equates to more than 20,000 affected pigs annually, which could be reduced to 5000 pigs or less with robotic cutting.

Stomach breakage carried a high risk of meat contamination and affected carcasses had to be carefully and individually handled and heavily trimmed.

Mr Romaniello said food safety was a vital concern for the company, which spent more than $10,000 monthly on its own microbiological testing for bacteria, while also working closely with Singapore’s AVA quarantine inspection agency. Introducing robotics would halve the necessity and cost of testing.

“The initial German designed and built evisceration robot we’ve fitted allows staff to be redeployed to higher duties and other robot modules can be added progressively, increasing redeployment of staff.

“Robotic cutting also delivers a more predictable cut of meat, with consistent quality and an increased yield of one per cent per carcase,“ he said.

According to Craig Mostyn Group General Manager, Meat and Livestock Division, Ron Penn, the Group has an outstanding strong track record of investment, project management and R&D, including a $16.5 million rebuild of the abattoir and boning room a few years ago.

“My Division is committed to the Group’s vision of achieving world’s best practice for traceability, quality, food safety, innovation and workforce practices," he said.

“As part of that focus, we continue to work collaboratively with industry bodies and other meat producers and processors to identify and then tackle critical industry-wide issues.“

Alongside matching dollar funding from the Australian Government’s Food Innovation Grants Program, the laser guided cutting robots program was also supported by Food Equipment Australia, Banss Meat Technology of Germany, Australian Pork Limited, WA Pork Producers’ Association and the Pork CRC.

“Recognising that Denmark, Canada and the USA, Australia’s major fresh pork competitors in Singapore, had already addressed the challenges of food safety, productivity and labour costs by investing in robotic cutting machines, supported by laser guided imaging to maximise efficiency, Australia simply had to invest in the technology to protect its competitive edge,“ Mr Penn said.

“Taking an industry leadership role as Australia’s major exporter of fresh pork into the very important and competitive Singapore market, Linley Valley Fresh and the Craig Mostyn Group committed to significant expenditure as the first adopter in the Australian pork processing sector of this world class robotic cutting equipment.“