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July 21, 2024
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Capacity growth involves the replacement of manual labor

The move to automatic evisceration

Any poultry processor anywhere in the world whose business is growing will one day face the decision to move from manual to automatic evisceration. When this day comes, what are the options?

Once a poultry processor has started processing industrially, he will have installed a scalder, plucker and overhead conveyor systems for the killing, defeathering and evisceration processes. Growth in hourly capacities will involve installing additional equipment.  In the case of the killing and defeathering department, this is straightforward and will largely involve adding sections to the scald tank and installing more plucking capacity.

Hand tools
Capacity increases will affect the evisceration department differently. At very low hourly throughputs all evisceration operations will be done manually using specialized hand tools. As capacities increase, technology will begin to creep in. Initially, this will be limited to the use of hand-held vent and lung guns to drill out the vent and to vacuum any residual lungs from the inside of the hand-eviscerated carcass.

“At one point, hiring more workers for evisceration isn’t the solution to growing capacity anymore”

At a given moment, however, processing plant management will have think about automating the evisceration process itself. This will depend on a number of factors such as the cost of labor and space available. As capacities increase, more people will be needed for each manual process and these people will need space in which to work.

Increasing line speeds
The need for more capacity will also mean that a processor is becoming established in his market and is increasing his customer base, thanks no doubt to a reputation for good quality and service. He will of course want to keep this. As line speeds increase, certain manual evisceration operations become more problematical. This is particularly true of removing the viscera pack from the carcass. A poorly eviscerated carcass will spoil quickly and, if edible giblets are damaged during the evisceration process, they will be unsaleable and revenue will be lost.

Automatic evisceration
At this stage, the installation of an automatic eviscerator makes excellent commercial sense. It will save people and space and will ensure that all carcasses are cleanly and accurately eviscerated to a consistent standard. The Nuova CoreTech eviscerator from Marel has been designed for processors making the switch from manual to automatic evisceration. CoreTech offers all the features and benefits of Marel’s well-known, globally established Nuova eviscerator. For many years Nuova has been in operation in plants across the globe and is able to handle all current broiler weights at all hourly throughputs right up to today’s highest. Where CoreTech differs from Nuova is that it does not transfer the drawn viscera pack to a separate pack shackle but deposits it over the back of the carcass. The pack is then suitably presented for efficient veterinary inspection, after which edible giblets can be conveniently harvested by hand.

Grow with needs
CoreTech will handle up to 6,000 broilers per hour. As users approach this throughput, they have the option of upgrading their CoreTech machine. Having started the initial automation using 10 units, they can easily double this to 20 units. Furthermore, they have the ability to transfer the drawn viscera pack to a separate pack shackle just like a standard Nuova eviscerator. Giblets can then be harvested manually or a start made with automatic giblet harvesting equipment. CoreTech is an eviscerator, which can grow in line with its user’s needs.

Replacing other operations
Once hourly capacities have increased and evisceration has been automated, thought can be given to replacing hand-held vent and lung guns. Marel offers its combined venting and opening machine VOC, which drills out the vent and applies an opening cut. This machine deposits each drilled vent neatly over the back of the carcass and opens carcasses without damaging the underlying viscera pack. The risk of any cross-contamination by faecal material has therefore been reduced to an absolute minimum.

Lung guns can be replaced by an automatic vacuum-assisted carrousel final inspection machine, whose units descend into the carcass cavity to suck out any loose debris. Kidneys are left in the carcass. Once the final inspection machine has done its job, all carcasses can be thoroughly washed both inside and out by an Inside/Outside Washer.

Automation of the evisceration process can be rounded off with mechanisation of neck flap inspection and neck cracking and removal. A neck flap inspection machine will remove any residual pieces of crop, oesophagus and windpipe leaving a clean neck flap. If product is to be sold fresh, a clean neck flap is important in ensuring good shelf. The necks themselves can be cracked and removed automatically in a carrousel neck cracking machine.

Consistently high standard
The move to an automated evisceration process will always be dictated by local conditions and requirements. As explained above, it does not have to be done all at once but can be done gradually. A fully automatic evisceration system will, however, more than pay back its investment. Not only will it save space and labor, it will help ensure a hygienic end product processed to a consistently high standard. This in turn will help the further expansion of its user’s business.

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