High quality cut-up lines offer processors the solutions to deliver whatever is needed in a timely manner. The lines position pieces automatically and produce high yields no matter the set up processors use.

High-speed cut-up lines provide poultry processors with the widest range of flexibility in direct relation to production capacity, said Garðabær, Iceland-based Marel, with offices in Lenexa, Kan. Production for quick-service restaurant chains, retail and other foodservice customers might differ in terms of the way a bird is cut, or the specific pieces needed.

Poultry processors face many challenges in their industry today and have various reasons to consider automation. A dwindling labor pool and the need to feed the world’s growing population just represent a few. Incorporating fully automated or semi-automated high-speed poultry cut-up gives processors options to overcome operational obstacles, Marel added.

Quality cut up

“A complete cut-up line contains a hanging station, wing stretcher, wing segmenting, whole wing cuts, front half cut, (or breast processor) tail cutter, leg processor, drum and thigh cutter (or saddle splitter in the case of leg quarters),” said Oliver Hahn, chief executive officer of Kansas City, Kan.-based Baader Poultry.

But the most important attributes to a poultry cut up line for processors to get the most return on investment (ROI) are, “Dependability, efficiency and quality,” said a poultry processing technology expert with Cantrell-Gainco, Gainesville, Ga., acquired by Birmingham, Ohio-based Bettcher Industries in March of 2019.

In addition to the components and overall quality, cut up lines need to meet a processor’s evolving needs and the industry’s evolving demands. Increased food safety, and design and manufacturing to enhance chain life and control of bird movement throughout processing also play major roles in cut up line value.

“Automation, vision technology, and weighing capabilities further contributes to higher quality and increased throughput,” Hahn said.

As poultry processors make decisions on the potential purchase of high speed cut lines, many factors, above and beyond ROI need consideration.

In addition to dependability, efficiency and quality, “the availability of high-quality parts and service,” are the most important factors for poultry companies to consider when purchasing a cut up line, Cantrell’s poultry processing expert said.

These qualities and attributes play a large role in today’s push for automation. Automation’s efficacy depends on longevity and a company’s ability to reap the benefits of automated processes. Without the quality and dependability, and the means to keep the line running automation falls short of its purpose.

“With the industry’s challenges with labor shortages, automated or semi-automated systems have truly given poultry processing facilities the ability to increase production and control many critical efficiencies throughout their production lines,” Cantrell’s expert added.

Hahn added that Baader always works to improve and enhance the performance and reliability of existing technologies, as well as further functionalities with new technologies.

“For high-speed cut up lines, we incorporated inline anatomical wing segmentation into the cut up line with the ability to bypass, resulting in substantial labor savings and eliminating additional transportation steps,” he said. “This integration allows for seamless throughput and heightened efficiency, particularly when coupled with automatic deboning machines.”

User friendly

Cantrell’s expert said adapting to the newest technologies, such as automated deboners entering the industry, are the best way poultry processors can take advantage of the opportunities manufacturers are offering. Hahn said the latest technologies for high- speed cut up include vision grading, inline weighing and the ability to bypass individual birds at each unit.

“Using these technologies, processors can send birds to the proper unit to achieve the best cutting performance and optimal yield,” he added.

Suppliers need to educate poultry processors and give operators the deepest possible understanding of the equipment in order to ensure companies and their teams get every bit of efficiency, dependability, high yields and consistency available in a high-speed cut up line. At Cantrell-Gainco, a knowledgeable sales staff begins this process at the beginning of the relationship of processor and supplier.

“The second most critical thing is having a dependable and qualified service team that has access to high-quality parts,” Cantrell’s expert added.

The collaboration between suppliers and processor customers for thorough implementation of automated, high technology cut up lines involves not only education but essential, hands-on training to go with it.

“Baader emphasizes the importance of a skillful service force that provides necessary training, supported by in-depth manuals, troubleshooting materials, training maintenance videos, and walkthroughs,” Hahn said. “Establishing close relationships with customers ensures valuable input for future developments. Additionally, Baader offers preventative maintenance contracts with all our cut-up modules to ensure optimal functionality and cutting performance.”

Manufacturers consistently work through research and development to create new cut up technologies as well as innovate new ideas to apply to existing technologies in an effort to offer processors the best possible solutions to high-speed cut up, especially as it relates to higher yields with less labor.

Capturing data throughout processes has become the norm in all business, and the manufacturing of food processing equipment is no different.

“The integration of intelligent automation captures data for each bird, determining the best route within the cut-up line to maximize production efficiency,” Hahn said. “Baader also emphasizes training and support for customers to implement automation successfully.”

Top line

Baader offers its ProFlex Cut-Up System as a customizable solution catered to the diverse needs of each poultry processor. The system includes inline weighing, inline vision system, front half cutter, anatomical wing segmenting, saddle splitter, leg processor, thigh and drumstick cutter, and unloader.

“Customers benefit from Baader solutions through high yield with low labor and quality cuts without compromising product quality,” Hahn said. “Efficient automation, flexibility in creating various wing products, and a reduction in trimming labor, ultimately lead to increased yield.”

Cantrell-Gainco offers poultry cut up solutions that include portioning and segmenting systems that are flexible enough to meet any processor’s requirements. Its high throughput systems deliver optimum yields and finished cuts while minimizing labor and material handling costs. The company’s equipment also possesses the ability to achieve the specifications set by foodservice, institutional and other customers.

Marel provides poultry processors many options for poultry cut lines. Marel offers complete, semi-automated and entry level automated cut up for processors looking to enter, or add next level cut up lines to their operations.

For poultry companies seeing a steady increase in cut up volume or those who want to transition from whole bird to parts, Marel’s ACM-NT Compact system gives poultry processors an easy entry to automated cut up, and it’s for plants with limited space. The system is modular with the flexibility to create any chicken part(s) and can be custom designed or upgraded.

Marel’s semi-automated cut-up combines automated and manual processes in a cone line. Also upgradeable, manual operations can be replaced with automated modules to serve processors as needed. For all its cut up lines, Marel offers remote and on-site technical assistance to address issues and prevent downtime while maximizing productivity and efficiency.