Save Time and Money with Fully Integrated Solutions! Part II:
Kill Floor Integration for Abattoirs –
Our series introduction highlighted how implementing modern integrated solutions on the plant floor helps food plants save time and money while also increasing plant-floor efficiency. Food plants can vary greatly from abattoir facilities to further processing plants. This blog focuses on modern solution integration on the kill floor of a small to medium sized food plant or abattoir facility.
The Kill Floor can get a lot of bad press. Transparency and visibility on a Kill Floor are vital to help abattoirs survive. They regularly face an obstacle course of government auditors, producer demands, religious ceremonial requirements and political activists. Therefore, a fully integrated data capture system can be a real lifeline to an abattoir facility. By implementing an integrated data capture system, abattoirs can have real time information about every animal or animal lot that has been processed through its facility. Solutions like Carlisle’s plant floor ERP give the processor or abattoir complete product traceability from animal receiving to the sale of the final product.
A typical solution designed to capture slaughter and animal/carcass information on the Kill Floor will integrate multiple components together. Plant floor ERP software, live animal scales, carcass rail scales, RFID tag readers, barcode scanners, label printers, and weighing / labeling software all need to be integrated together to make one complete solution.
Animal Receiving & Identification
Many small plants are still manually scheduling and receiving animals into their facilities. Whether the operators are physically writing or using spreadsheets to record animal information there is a good chance for human error to negatively affect the data being recorded.
With an integrated plant floor ERP system, like Carlisle Technology’s Symphony™, animal scheduling and receiving are integrated together to make a seamless connection between the front office and the receiving barn. Lot tags can be printed and kept with the animals or attached to the animal pens to help identify receiving lots. These lot tags follow the animals as they move from the barn to the Kill Floor.
Depending on the abattoir, the collection of the animal harvest information can vary. Some plants want to get live or near-live weights of all animals or animal lots coming into the facility. While other abattoirs want to start their data-collection with the hot weight of the animals.
When processing larger animals or animals with individual identification markers like ear tags, most abattoirs want to get a live or near live weight of the animals. At the live or near-live scale the receiving lot tag is scanned a long with each animal’s ear tag. All of this is done while the animal’s ear tag is still attached to the animal. This helps prevent a mix up with animal identification. Associating the animal ear tags to each receiving lot will help with ear tag retirement and the gathering of carcass yield data. Once the lot tag and ear tag have been scanned and the animal has been weighed a carcass tag is generated. Each animal in the receiving lot will have its own unique carcass tag. The carcass tag will follow the animal’s carcass to the hot scale.
As mentioned earlier, some abattoirs will start their data-collection process at the hot scale. If that’s the case, then they will need to manually keep track of which carcass is associated with what ear tag. The hot scale station will need to be able to associate the ear tag, receiving lot and hot weight all together to get a hot weight carcass tag.
The Hot Scale: Carcass Weighing and Labelling
The hot scale is a key place to capture data about each carcass. Hot scale weighing and labelling solutions, like Carlisle Technology’s iCap™ application, have the ability to record attributes about each carcass or carcass side. These attributes will indicate details about the animal’s health, age, or carcass demerits.
The carcass is hung up on the hot scale to be weighed after the carcass has had the head and hide removed and been completely cleaned out. For larger animals the carcasses are typically split into two sides and weighed separately. The operator will scan the carcass tag from the live/near live station to pull up the correct carcass that is being weighed. If it has been split, the operator will indicate which side is being weighed. Carcass attributes are assigned to the half being weighed, and the hot weight is recorded against that carcass or carcass side. A new carcass tag will be printed out and pinned to the carcass. The new carcass tag will show the hot weight and associate the carcass side all the way back to the original carcass, ear tag and receiving lot. The hot weight combined with the live/near live weight will give the abattoir an accurate carcass dressing percentage.
The Cold Scale: Weighing & Yield Reporting
Whether or not an abattoir facility has a cold scale is dependent on many variables. Most small processors don’t use a cold scale. This is because the additional scale can be expensive, and the physical limitations that come with doing an additional weighment of each carcass. They also often lack the proper data-collection capabilities to make it worth their time to try and calculate yields from the carcass’s cold weight.
Carcasses lose a significant amount of weight in the first 24-48 hours of being cooled. This happens because water is lost as the carcass goes through the cooling process. The amount of shrinkage can greatly vary depending on animal species type, fat percentages, and ambient conditions inside of the cooler.
The data collected by an integrated plant floor ERP solution can be a huge asset when a cold scale is integrated into the solution. Abattoirs gain the ability to see the average shrinkage rates of their carcasses. This helps abattoirs reduce the average shrinkage percentages by allowing them to correct cooler conditions if need be. It also gives more data to abattoir facilities that are selling their slaughter and co-packing services to producers. If abattoir facilities rely on yield reporting, then the cold scale gives them another data point to be able to calculate and report on how much carcass mass was lost through shrinkage.
Issuing Carcasses into Production
A plant floor ERP system, like Symphony™, that’s designed for abattoirs and food processors will provide traceability and yield reporting from the animal receiving to the production of finished goods. Each of the various data-collection points mentioned above aren’t necessarily required, but they provide more visibility for yield reporting. Abattoirs only interested in knowing the carcass dressing percentage will only use the live/near-live station and hot scale prior to issuing the carcasses to the cut floor. Abattoirs who also incorporate a cold scale will have visibility into both the carcass dressing percentage and the percentage of shrinkage happening in their coolers. After a carcass finishes its cooler chill time it should be ready to be issued into production.
The carcass tag pinned to each carcass will identify that carcass or side with a unique serial number that can be traced back to the original animal or receiving lot. That same tag can be used to scan the carcass into production batches. Most production facilities will issue multiple carcasses or sides to a single production batch.
On the cut floor as a carcass is being broken down, the cuts will be weighed and labeled either by piece, box, or combo. Weighing and labeling solutions like iCap™ will allow the operator to select which production batch the cuts are correlated with. This will associate each piece, box or combo back to the carcass or group of carcasses that were scanned out of the cooler and into the production batch.
Capitalize on carlisle technology’s experience!
It’s easy to see the value in adopting a modern integrated solution that can help capture Kill Floor data and track carcasses through slaughter and further processing. The data collected provides valuable information back to the abattoir or processor, and it gives them full visibility into the history of each carcass or receiving lot.
Carlisle Technology has over 30 years of experience in developing, configuring, installing and supporting fully integrated plant floor solutions. These solutions have helped countless numbers of food processors reduce inefficiencies and increase production throughput. Weighing and labeling solutions like iCap™ and a plant floor ERP type system, like Symphony™ are purpose-built for abattoirs and food processors to enhance productivity, provide traceability and improve plant floor efficiency. With an integrated kill floor data collection system, abattoirs can survive the obstacles arise from internal and external requirements.
Written by: Andy Cumpton, Sales and Marketing – Carlisle Technology