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HKScan now cutting chicken with waterjets

Vinderup, Finland-based HKScan has replaced the sharp blades in its chicken processing plant with high-pressure DSI waterjets. The new technology cuts the chicken loin with the cleanest cut the producer has ever seen, René Wibholdt for Food Supply Magazine reports.

HKScan is undergoing a comprehensive transformation, with the major challenge of using raw materials optimally. In short, the upheaval must ensure that several years of red figures on the bottom line are replaced by black ones. And in this context, the new investment in a waterjet plant is a perfect fit.

Whereas the slaughterhouse in Vinderup previously used industrial knives in the processing plant to cut chicken fillets into cubes and strips, the cutting work is now done by high-pressure water jets. Technically, the new plant is equipped with a robot arm with several adjacent nozzles, which emit high-pressure water jets that execute the variable cutting functions.

Inspiration from Sweden
With the remodeling in and around the processing plant, the waterjet solution, which was delivered before Christmas 2020, cost DKK 9.3 million, of which the major part of the investment has gone to the new cutting unit. The repayment period is expected to be two to three years. According to HKScan, the plant at the Vinderup slaughterhouse is the only one of its kind in Denmark.

“The idea for the investment came after a trip to Sweden, where we went around to see the shops. There, we quickly came across the beautiful cuts on the strips and cubes lying in a refrigerated display case. So we decided that such high quality is also something we would like to offer our customers,” said Sales Director Morten Cederberg, HKScan Denmark A/S.

With the new technology, HKScan is beginning to deliver to the convenience store category. Photo: HKScan

“We currently sell cubes and strips, but the cuts themselves are not as attractive and uniform when done with a knife. So with the new technology and high quality, we are confident that we can increase future sales in this category. This is also absolutely necessary in order to recoup the investment,” he added.

In addition to strips and cubes, the plant can also cut the breast fillets crosswise (horizontally). This cut gives the consumer a minute fillet that fits ideally with the convenience trend. “It reduces the cooking time, and consumers can now prepare the product in half the time. We believe that many consumers will be pleased with this in their busy workday,” said Cederberg.

New category in place
The next step for HK SCAN is the launch of ready-fried strips and cubes. “Here we are looking at a category characterised by foreign products. Fortunately, our customers are asking for Danish chicken, and we can now help them with this. Basically, importing chicken meat transported over long distances makes no sense. So we strongly believe that Danish consumers will support the new products. The category of ready-fried strips and cubes will be brand new to us. Now we will have exposure on the cold-cuts shelf,” explained the Sales Director.

Until now, the chicken producer was not able to offer ready-fried cubes and strips, but this is now possible with the investment in a new frying line, which is located at the factory in Skovsgaard.

The bag has been shaken
Morten Cederberg expects strong growth in the brand new category, where the products can be eaten directly from the pack or used in a salad or packed lunch. 

“That’s what works. Consumers demand convenience, and therefore we must do much more in processed foods”, he said. The number of chickens slaughtered in Denmark remains unchanged at HKScan.

“To meet the demand for the waterjet range and the ready-fried variants, we will move meat from individual export markets and instead sell it in Denmark. It is basically a question of where we can earn the most from the meat,” Cederberg indicated.

The transformation must simply put a large full-stop on the number of years with a deficit.

Cederborg explained: “By focusing more on refined and specialised products, our production becomes more complex. We have to move the raw materials from Vinderup to Skovsgård, but that’s how it is. We have decided on a new strategy, and now we must concentrate on getting the initiatives to succeed.”

Investments in welfare
HKScan is also ready with welfare chickens, which are currently being launched in the grocery retail chains. It’s a different breed – Range Gold – than the conventional chickens. They weigh pretty much the same, but get more space in the chicken house and access to the outside area. They are slaughtered after 46-47 days, whereas for conventional chickens it is typically 34 days. Welfare chicken is produced by farmers who have previously supplied organic chickens to HKScan.

“We are in a transformation process where we must focus on where we can basically earn the most from our raw materials,” Cederberg said.

Reference: Original article, ”Nu skærer HKScan kylling med vandstråler” af René Wibholdt for Food Supply Magazine / Jern & Maskinindustrien under Nordiske Medier

The C.A.T. Transfer Pump: the simple solution to get products moving

Moving labor-intensive protein products down a production line such as trim meat, viscera, skin, hearts, livers or gizzards can be a messy business, but also one where inadvertent product losses can take place. The JBT C.A.T. Transfer Pump is a hygienic, low-maintenance and cost-effectiveway to move soft food products from point A to point B with minimal damage.

Suitable for a wide range of products, from marinated breast meat and tenders through to chicken wings and fish fillets, the Transfer Pump works by moving products suspended in liquid, which removes the risk of product being lost at turns and connection points, helping maximize yield in the process.

Complete control
“The C.A.T. Transfer Pump allows us to easily move a product that would otherwise be on a conveyor, but with the difference being there is less danger or products being lost or dropped, and they are going to sustain little damage during transportation from A to B,” explains Dustan Atkinson, General Manager for Primary Segment products at JBT C.A.T.

The system functions by drawing products from a hopper up a vertical tube. The product will touch a probe near the top of the tube, and once the connection is made the vacuum generator switches to charge mode and the product exits the pump. The Transfer Pump is also available in 4″, 6″, or 8″ diameter pump sizes to better meet the flow rates required by the customer.

Removing risk
According to Atkinson, control of yield is one of the system’s biggest plus points, in addition to precise feeding, both into and out of the pump. “This precision means you can effectively remove trim from waterjet cutting systems, and skin from deskinning machines along with transferring heats, livers and gizzards (GIB packs) from evisceration areas to designated pack out areas,” he says. 

The Transfer Pump requires little to no maintenance, having only two moving parts, while being universally compatible means the system will work within any line, even non-JBT machines. In addition, the solution’s simple, stainless-steel construction enables easier cleaning and maintenance, Atkinson concludes.

Find out more about the JBT C.A.T. Transfer Pump

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