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Improving Meat Processing Efficiency: 5 Essential Tools & Techniques

April 16, 2024

To be able to satisfy the ever-increasing need worldwide for meat, meat processing would do well to improve its efficiency in terms of quality, safety, and cost direction. 

So today, we are going to break down meat processing efficiency into five of the most important areas to help turnover and return on investment for the processing plants.   

So, here are five indispensable and essential tools and techniques for meat processing to become more efficient.

  1. Smart Cutting Tools

‘Smart knives’ would incorporate sensors, giving real-time feedback to the automated cutting system. In this way, the meat would be analysed while it’s being cut, maximising the efficiency of the process.

On the processing floor, smart cutting tools – equipped with high-tech sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms – analyse the meat during the cutting process. 

Data is transmitted to a machine to adjust the blade to maximise the cut’s yield and quality based on dynamic parameters such as product composition and texture. Spotting a vein, for example, requires a different blade for splitting the meat, whereas too much fat may call for an entirely different strategy. 

Such capabilities surpass the precision with which a manual cutter can judge the composition from in-the-moment visual and tactile cues. Such robotics also boost speed and lower labour costs, further benefitting meat processing efficiency.

  1. Nanotechnology in Packaging

The use of nanoparticles in packaging materials improves the physical, functional and organoleptic properties of meat products, which is how our senses perceive food:

  • Sight
  • Taste
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • And Touch

These nanoparticles are responsible for increasing shelf life, improving safety, and creating smart packaging that can monitor the product’s condition during storage for the consumer.

Packages that contain nanoparticles in their coating can enhance the barrier properties of packaging materials and substantially extend the shelf life of meat products against moisture, oxygen and microbial growth. 

Second, we can make packages that will represent to the consumer and the processor a new level of safety and information with smart packaging by changing colours when meat is not fresh or when pathogens are present.

  1. Automated Processing Equipment

Designed to ensure that product does not adhere to equipment, as done with tubular heat exchangers, where meat is forced to flow in a pipe rather than stay in a vessel, which improves throughput and minimises waste.

Examples of the range of automated processing equipment include automated equipment for:

  • Deboning
  • Cutting
  • Packaging (All Parts)
  • Grinding
  • Chopping
  • And Mincing. 

All automated processing systems can be customised for any part of the meat-processing chain, and increasingly, they are implemented involving integrated vision systems and X-ray technology, which provide assistance in automated cutting, leading to reduced product giveaways and increased competitiveness through higher yields and higher quality products. 

Various automated cutting systems for products filled in casings Automation also contributes to increased safety in the workplace and fewer risks that are associated with manual, repetitive labour. We all know staff safety is always a priority. 

  1. Real-time data-driven insights 

Meat processors occasionally face issues when managing their dimensions of profitability: Minimising waste and maximising throughput while meeting quality demand. 

Integrating systems that offer data-driven insights in real-time transforms the meat industry from managing costs to a continuous process of optimisation.

Those insights are gained by collecting data at various points in the chill chain, including the supply of raw materials, process parameters and performance of both people and the equipment. 

Big data analytics and machine learning algorithms allow processors to better understand our processing cycles, and identifying performance improvement opportunities helps us make decisions closer to what actually happens on the processing floor. 

This, in turn, allows us to plan and better forecast demand and more effectively manage our working capital and inventory.

  1. Operational Efficiency Software

Operational efficiency software provides a competitive edge to meat-processing facilities by giving us the tools to analyse the right performance data, identify bottlenecks, and optimise plant performance. These solutions allow meatpackers to operate more efficiently and profitably.

Operational efficiency software such as:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

That integrates all components of a meat processing operation, including inventory management, product traceability, compliance with food safety standards and various factors that contribute to efficient production scheduling. 

For example, by expediting the automation of many administrative-related tasks, the result has been a significant reduction in errors and time, as well as an increased competitiveness of meat processing facilities.

SUMMARY

With their adoption, this meat processing efficiency in facilities can reduce labour costs and become more efficient, yielding better quality products while lowering the cost per unit, thus gaining a competitive edge. These tools and methods are the leading edge of meat production innovation, making processing safer, more efficient and greener. We hope that some of the information in this blog will help you on your journey in the industry. Good luck.