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The Xray technology helping achieve the perfect cut

Getting the most value out of a cut of beef steak or pork loin can make a literal, monetary difference to food processors, but up until recently has not always been easy to achieve. By combining XVision Flexscan technology and advanced software with DSI Waterjet Portioning Systems, JBT is now able to add significant value to a cut of meat, while ensuring sensitive products – such as red meat – make minimum contact with water.

Debuted in 2017, the JBT DSI X-ray Guided Waterjet Portioning System marks a major step forward on previous waterjet solutions by enabling an effective analysis of the product interior to take place before the first cut is even taken. However, the 2021 introduction of DSI Value Optimizer software enables product managers to determine a cut pattern that achieves the highest value based on current pricing, allowing companies to maximize both yields and profits.

System innovations
“We have been making a concerted effort working with our software development and mechanical engineering teams on how we can better equip our current machine offering for red meat,” explains JBT DSI New Market Development Engineer, Alec Hewitt. “We’ve put significant effort into a water jet application specifically for the red meat industry.”

Optimizing value: the JBT X-ray Guided Waterjet Portioning System

Hewitt recently hosted a Red Meat webinar as part of the JBTConnect series (register to view), examining how the system can benefit a wide range of products, from beef steaks, sirloins and New York strips to pork ribs, loins and chops.

“We have done a lot more work with pork processors in terms of developing software that is most usable for them,” reveals Hewitt. “We can analyse a rib pack and develop a value-based strategy that can turn a US$6 rib into a US$7 rib and we think that’s of great benefit to the industry.”

When it comes to red meat, one of DSI’s biggest advances has been the development of a system which captures the water stream immediately and directs it away from the meat to minimize any contact with the water. “Our engineers have done an incredible job,” says Hewitt. “Our water stream is only about the width of a human hair, but once it passes through the meat it goes into a water capture or “baffle” that directs it away from the product surface. We have also improved ventilation in the system.”

Optimal cuts
The integration of Flexscan Xray technology means operators can now scan the products and calculate how they want to make the cut before the process begins. “The Xray allows us to individually see every rib in the pack and with that information we can plot a cut pattern, so every cut pattern will be unique,” continues Hewitt. “Our water jet system is on a x/y axis which allows us to make last-minute adjustments of how we are cutting.”

The addition of Value Optimizer software enables product managers to aggregate information on a daily basis and apply the cut strategy to the highest volume based on internal pricing. In fact, the software is connected to futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, so processors can benefit from daily pricing updates.

However, JBT remains very much involved and will work with customers to help develop cut strategies. “For example, a customer might have multiple product SUKs with varying requirements, and we will work with them based on what their specifications are and program that into the equipment so it’s ready to go,” he explains. “Also, if (and when) those specifications change, it’s very straightforward and user-friendly to adjust, so the cut strategies continue to match our customer’s expectations.”

LEARN MORE about the JBT X-ray Guided Waterjet Portioning System

JBT’s VAC CAT: the optimum weight solution for tricky products

Raw poultry and meat can be among the most challenging products when it comes to food processing, especially when it comes to achieving uniformity of weights while at the same time ensuring the highest levels of hygiene and food safety. JBT’s VAC CAT Product Metering System is a solution especially developed to deliver uniform feeding and metering of these products that includes innovations to minimize product damage and ensure the highest quality. 

Metering by weight is a key feature of the VAC CAT and one which can be applied effectively to notoriously difficult to handle products, from marinated chicken wings to breast fillets and tenders. Crucially, the system ensures the highest quality and gentle product handling through a combination of eliminating valves and sharp edges, and by pumping at a lower speed – though still at high capacity – than other vacuum methods.

Consistent flow
According to Dustan Atkinson, General Manager for Primary Segment products at JBT/CAT, the system delivers a consistent and reliable flow of products across the width of a conveyor by bringing together a vacuum pump with density-based separation, transportation piping, dual hopper metering with load cells, a Product Distribution System (PDS) and a takeaway conveyor.

“The main products transported by the VAC CAT are breast meat, fillets, tenders and segmented wings – typically in a marinade – which are pulled from a hopper, sucked up a vacuum tube, measured out and dropped on a conveyor,” Atkinson explains. 

Highly accurate
The VAC CAT features a highly accurate double scaling system to ensure a consistent product weight, as well as a stainless steel construction for effective hygiene. Importantly, the VAC CAT’s pound per hour system helps maintain a steady flow of products at an optimum speed. “If you have product feeding into a typical system at 10,000 pounds per hour, the danger is that if it slows down you overcook everything or if it goes too fast it comes out raw and undercooked, and you can’t sell it,” says Atkinson. “The VAC CAT helps dictate exactly how many pounds you need to feed through a given freezer or cooker to maintain its set parameters to run at its best.” 

The Product Distribution System (PDS) receives the product from the VAC CAT and meters it out – over a series of rollers that increase in speed to help separate the product downstream – onto the customer’s existing belt. Through this metering system, the customer is able to achieve a more even flow of product and reduce the need for extra personnel before entering a freezer or fryer, Atkinson adds.

LEARN MORE about the JBT VAC CAT

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

JBT setting the pace for injector solutions

JBT Wolf-Tec IMAX Injector Needles

Go to any supermarket or delicatessen to buy a meat product, whether that be hams, chicken or steaks, and the expectation will be a fresh, flavorful eating experience, but behind that product there is a great deal of technology; much of the best from JBT. Typically used to add brine to meats, injector systems are a key element of the meat processing chain, and are one in which food safety and effectiveness are crucial to their success.

JBT Injector Systems lead the way in the controlled injection of bone-in or boneless meat, as well as featuring a tenderizer head for boneless meat. 

For the poultry industry, the MEPSCO ULTRACAT, Junior ULTRACAT and Double Head Injector & Tenderizer offer uniform distribution, best moisture retention, and superior piece-to-piece accuracy compared with competitor systems. Meanwhile, Schröder/Wolf-tec IMAX injectors, designed and manufactured with German precision, have become the industry standard for performance, consistency, and reliability for bone-in and boneless injection, and marination, for deli meats and poultry. 

“The injector needles are used to infuse liquid back into the meat because you want it to be juicy as if it was fresh,” explains JBT Customer Care Business Development Manager, Humberto Hernandez. “You put the meat in one end, set-up the needles – up to 750 at a time – and there is a pump which injects brine to add flavor.” This can cover everything from hams, bacons and briskets to chicken breasts, whole chickens and steaks, Hernandez continues; in fact just about any meat product that can be found in a deli outlet.

Safety first
Of course when dealing with injecting liquids into both bone-in and boneless meat products, food safety is of the utmost concern, especially given the immense hazard that broken needle parts could pose. In the case of JBT injector systems, the needles are fused and forged to the machine using tempered steel for extra strength and resistance. 

“In the case of some competitors, the needles are just welded, which carry the risk of breaking off and can cause a lot of problems down the line, not just in terms of company reputation, but they can also represent a food safety hazard,” cautions Hernandez. 

“The main benefits of using this system is that it gives flavor by adding liquid to the products. At the safe time, it is simple and safe because the JBT Injector Needles use high quality, tempered steel which won’t break off during the process.”

Hernandez estimates that between 60-70% of meat sold via grocery retail outlets is injected with brine. The remainder is tumbled or massaged; also solutions offered by JBT.

CLICK HERE to find out more about JBT Injection Equipment

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