ABB Australia is a major provider of power and automation technologies for utility and industrial customers.
Machinery Automation & Robotics (MAR), a leading robotics integrator substituted a dangerous work environment at a meat processor with three safe and sanitary robotics solutions.
Meat processing is a labour-intensive, hands-on industry that requires extensive safety protocols to protect the health and safety of operators in addition to the health and safety of consumers.
Recently, an international meat processing company based in Australia needed to raise its operations to a safer and more productive level.
The company sought help from MAR, a firm that designs, builds and integrates automated manufacturing and industrial solutions across a wide range of industries. MAR was required to address not only OHS issues at the meat processing facility, but also the lack of reliable skilled labour that was threatening the company’s ability to stay competitive.
MAR’s team of experienced engineers analysed the abattoir’s production and came up with three innovative robotic solutions that have transformed productivity, safety and sanitation at the facility.
According to Clyde Campbell, CEO at MAR, traditionally, this part of meat processing requires a person to operate a heavy, industrial-size hydraulic knife device called a brisket shear. This practice combines a dangerous tool with a physically demanding task that commonly results in wrist and back injury. MAR’s solution eliminated the need to endanger employees altogether.
MAR’s robotics installation features an IRB 4600 robot from ABB and an advanced sensing system to ensure accurate, reliable operation. A circular cutting saw, fitted with a dustless micro-toothed knife blade and centring guides makes one clean cut at the centre of the brisket.
This has drastically improved quality with fewer instances of internal organ puncturing and other damage, thereby simplifying downstream processing.
Moreover, constant submerging of the blade and guides after every cut sterilises them more thoroughly, preventing cross-contamination.
Contamination that spreads from a sheep’s pelt to the carcass costs the industry in terms of product quality, extra processing and yield loss. The earlier manual process in which personnel operated a Sani Vac wand put employees at risk of repetitive strain injuries in addition to disadvantages caused by various inefficiencies.
MAR provided the meat processor front and rear Sani Vac systems, essentially steam sanitisers with vacuums attached to IRB 140 industrial robots to clean areas prone to contamination before cuts are made.
With accurate sensing and programming, the wand delivers steam to loosen soil, kill bacteria and remove contaminants via vacuum.
Sucking out the fat
The third solution that MAR provided the meat processor involved kidney fat removal from sheep carcasses. Like the other two installations, MAR’s automation saves workers from a repetitive and strenuous task best left to robots: it interfaces an IRB 4600 robot with a specially designed fat extraction wand connected to a vacuum system.
At the very least, MAR’s improvements to the meat processor’s operation have achieved the most important goal of all: there have been no injuries reported since the installation.
CEO Clyde Campbell says, “Our association with ABB provides us equipment that serves as a basis for us to develop innovative solutions for industry. With robotics, we can improve productivity levels, streamline manufacturing processes and provide safer working environments.”