Carcass grading is of great importance to the meat industry because prime cuts of beef (for example) sell for more than choice cuts.
The difficulty with grading is that it is done differently for various products.
We’re going to look into the differences between grading for pork and beef and how you can organize them both.
Cattle are typically graded in one of two ways now. In advanced systems, cameras can take a picture of the loin after a carcass is open and automatically compare that picture to a database.
It assigns a grade based on things like color and fat content/marbling by comparing the snapshot to other pictures to see what sort of grades were assigned to similar cuts.
The other method is by human identification.
A grader attends a station where he observes and grades the meat based off of similar criteria that were mentioned above.
He then writes down that info or records it on a computer.
These methods define whether a cut is going to be listed as select, choice, or prime, which define the price it can be sold for.
Pork uses a different method altogether.
A special optical probe is inserted through the ribs and loin. This gives a reading showing the levels of meat and back fat available in the hog.
There is a lot of information flying around and it is hard to keep track of on paper when grading.
Fortunately, we offer software packages and HMIs (human-machine interfaces) that make this task much simpler.
When a carcass comes in for grading, we can set up the system to automatically acquire data on that carcass from a barcode or our Trolley Vision® system.
A grader can see this info and assign it a grade through an intuitive HMI.
Touchscreens with visual cut specification are a popular option that we offer for manual grading stations.
This links the grade to such info as producer, kill date, kill weight, etc. so the information can be kept together in a database, making plant management much easier.
Don’t bother using obsolete systems and paper to record grades. That will most likely result in lost info and costly errors.
Think about all the information the modern meat plant wants from its hot scale station every three seconds or so.
In just over 3 seconds you might need to record a:
- Tattoo Number / Lot Number
- Carcass ID
- Possibly a Back Fat value
- And of course a weight
It might seem the height of folly to expect a scale operator to enter a specific trim loss code that would identify the actual cut or cuts affected.
Such a task would seem like an open invitation to errors and payment disputes.
But what if entering trim losses did not involve key strokes?
Imagine the speed and the accuracy possible if a scale operator had a visual depiction of a carcass on a touch screen monitor with all the possible cuts outlined.
In just about no time at all, a scale operator can notice a missing cut or cut. He or she could then touch the corresponding part or parts on a touch screen monitor. Fast. Easy. Accurate.
This is a carcass grading option that we make available with our hot scale program.
Training is pretty much limited to cut location.
Up to 20 cut selections are available and each plant can define the shapes and cut sizes. The touch screen shows split animals so operators can easily enter information on non-conforming primal cuts with a reduction of language barriers.
Dockage information is immediate and can be interfaced with other programs for data collection and report generation. Lost data is transmitted serially via RS232. And it works at any speed.
This Human Machine Interface (HMI) is even available in an optional stainless steel wash down enclosure.
With so much information available and with such ease, perhaps the height of folly is to not have a Touch Screen Carcass Grading System.
Many meat plants have discovered over time that it is an absolute necessity to inspect carcasses as they pass through the plant.
This ensures better bookkeeping practices and allows for easier tracking of yields.
The problem with grading is that it can be clunky and cumbersome… unless you have an appropriate interface.
Carcass grading is often marred by inefficient paper tracking, which allows for data loss and user error, and by grading systems that aren’t user-friendly.
We fixed these issues.
The carcass grading system that we use the most is made with ease-of-use in mind. Employees and people in general are very visual, so our human machine interfaces (HMIs) often use a touchscreen for input.
This comes in handy because a visual input is the logical way to input a visual inspection.
Graders have to observe the carcasses as they pass through and identify if any cuts are damaged or missing. Once they have determined this, they use the touchscreen to identify those cuts or portions.
The simplest way of doing this is showing a picture of the carcass with a diagram showing the various cuts of meat. The user then touches that section of meat to identify that it is missing for whatever reason.
Carcass grading is made simple and effective this way. It minimizes input errors and allows the operator to work more quickly and efficiently.
This saves the company money because they make fewer errors and require less labor.
It is also a considerable opportunity cost because carcass grading allows the companies to adjust their production based on yield, ensuring maximum profit potential by cutting waste and incorrect bookkeeping.
Our HMIs are all meant to be intuitive like this, but, most importantly, they can be customized to fit your preference.
We can help you with custom solutions by changing the cut diagrams to reflect various animals (beef, pork, etc.) or sections of the animals.
Buy from a company who has proven that they know what they are doing.
Contact us today about our Carcass Grading systems and HMIs!
With advances in technology, processes are becoming easier and easier to automate, but quality control has always required employees to observe the products and make judgments based on what they see.
With Machine Vision, having a large group of quality control workers can become a thing of the past.
Machine vision allows plants to check things that no person is capable of, both accurately and quickly. For example, think of a bottling plant.
In bottling, there are several things that need to be verified.
Fluid levels need to be correct and bottles need to be sealed by the end of the process.
These things would be strenuous and difficult to check for quality control personnel, but using machine vision is a different story.
Using a camera linked to a computer interface, a machine vision system can check to see that fluid levels are at the correct height within the bottle, and it can also determine whether a cap is screwed on all the way based on its height from the bottle.
The human eye isn’t capable of the same precise measurements.
It can also check to see that labels are accurately placed on products. It can even identify that the correct label is being applied by using OCR (optical character recognition) for verification.
A machine vision system with the right camera, lighting, angle, and programming can do quality control easily and can even be used to dictate sorting parameters on a sortation conveyor.
The biggest benefit of this sort of system is its ability to eliminate costly quality control operations.
You could have several employees checking products, but they, in most cases, cannot check every product that comes through very thoroughly and they might make inconsistent observations.
A machine vision system is exactly the opposite. It can check every product that passes by, and it is extremely consistent because there is no opinion involved.
Machine vision systems are capable of doing many things, so if you have a sortation or quality control issue that needs solving, it might be a worthwhile option to consider.