The installation of Ishida’s innovative fresh food weigher and X-ray system at leading Swiss food company Micarna is delivering important efficiency benefits including the reduction of product giveaway and a fast payback on investment, as well as manpower savings and enhanced quality control.
Part of Switzerland’s Migros Group, Micarna’s specialities include ‘Geschnetzeltes’, thinly sliced chicken which, like all fresh meat, can be difficult to handle automatically. Because of a tendency to clump together and to stick to contact surfaces, Geschnetzeltes have until recently been both weighed and packed by hand.
The new packing line has eliminated manual intervention and is the first of its kind in handling this type of product. At its heart is an Ishida 12-head fresh food weigher, working at 48 weighments per minute. Sliced meat is fed onto two conveyors mounted on pivoting arms, each of which can feed any one of six belts supplying the pool hoppers. Optical sensors identify which hoppers need filling, and direct the conveyors to supply product to the appropriate belt.
The pool, weigh and booster hoppers are all made of plastic with ridged surfaces and have non-stick scraper gates. Together the conveyors, belts and hoppers ensure that product flow remains consistent, to ensure that there is no clogging and no build up of residues, so a precise portion is sent to each and every tray. The weigher is waterproof to IP65, and all contact parts can be removed without tools, facilitating cleaning.
The new line has made significant savings for Micarna, with product giveaway cut up by to 7%, while the automated operation has allowed personnel to be re-assigned to other tasks. With hygiene a major issue in meat packing, eliminating manual handling has obvious benefits.
Antonio Varela, Micarna’s head of poultry processing, is very pleased with Ishida’s innovative solution: “Our estimate is that the investment will have paid for itself in just eighteen months.”
When Micarna’s meat products were packed by hand, spotting contaminants relied on the vigilance of operatives. Ishida’s IX-GA-4075 X-ray inspection system is capable of identifying and precisely locating metal contaminants as small as 2mm by 0.2mm, a level of security that is simply not possible on meat packing lines using metal detectors.
Micarna now uses the line incorporating the Ishida X-ray machine to pack all sliced and minced meat products where the risk of contamination cannot be excluded. Metal, plastic, glass, stone, hard rubber or pieces of bone can all be detected, along with damaged or underweight products.
With up to 20 different products being packed each day, changeovers are frequent but the pre-programmed Ishida X-ray machine can be reset in just one minute. It is virtually maintenance free and straightforward to clean as parts can be easily removed.
“After examining machines from several suppliers the Ishida system was the one that really fitted the bill,” comments Christine Genoulet-Leubin, head of quality control, adding that the machine has proved “compact, sturdy and easy to operate.”