Sheep processing innovation added in Australian plants
The latest innovation in automated sheep processing has been installed at two Australian processing plants to further improve carcass value, increase processing efficiencies and deliver operator safety, announced Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
A world's first, LEAP V automated bone-in forequarter processing module uses a 3D-vision camera to scan each forequarter, creating a virtual model and identifying cut locations for optimal carcass value and consistency. A robotic arm then grasps the forequarter and uses a bandsaw to make the precise cuts.
The system has already been installed at Victorian plants, Wagstaff Cranbourne and JBS Brooklyn. LEAP V is the third module to be launched in the LEAP suite of automated technologies, joining the LEAP III primal cutter and the LEAP IV middle system, developed as a result of long-term collaboration between the MLA Donor Company (MDC), Scott Automation & Robotics, and processors.
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Value Chain Technology Program Manager, Christian Ruberg, said the lamb forequarter is an important component of the carcass requiring a series of bandsaw cuts to separate the neck and shanks to produce the square‑cut shoulder portions. “At processing line speed in the lamb boning room, this is a repetitive and physically demanding task,” Mr. Ruberg said.
“The fully automated cutting solution features the flexibility of a robot and servo motor-controlled bandsaw, capable of processing the main bone-in cuts of the carcass forequarter including knuckle tip removal, neck cuts, shank and brisket removal, and vertebrae splitting.
While the other modules feature specifically built automation for high reliability and throughput, the LEAP V utilizes robotic flexible automation, in which the robot can not only compensate for variable carcass sizes but also manage variable cutting requirements or specifications. Again, this is a world-first in meat processing technology, and adds additional value in productivity, processing at five carcasses a minute,”, he added.
Wagstaff Cranbourne has installed one LEAP V machine to manage cycle speed, while three have been installed at JBS’s Brooklyn plant to process 10 carcasses per minute. Also, the technology further adds to the LEAP series of modules, designed to deliver a more consistent product, increase workplace safety by separating the operator from the cutting blade and contribute to labor efficiencies.