While automated lines are rarer in the meat industry than other areas of the food processing sector, the trend toward automated meat production is gaining traction. Not only do the technological advances of automated lines maximise efficiency and profitability, they ensure premium quality and safer products. Here are the top 5 reasons forward-thinking abattoir managers are automating their operations:
1. Better resource optimisation.
Automation enables abattoir operators to optimise time, money, labour and raw materials. This increases throughput and leads to greater overall profitability.
2. Upgrading existing infrastructure equips abattoirs to compete for global and domestic markets.
Export has long been the backbone of the Australian economy. Increasing demand from China for fresh, safe and 100% traceable beef has only added to this. The FTA will lead to reduced tariffs over time and many beef exporters are investing in capital infrastructure now in readiness for increasing international demand for Australian meat. For the first time Chinese consumers can purchase Australian beef online – however, they expect fast, fresh, safe and 100% traceable meat every time. Traditional abattoirs that don’t invest in automation will find themselves being left behind.
While foreign consumers – particularly the Chinese middle classes – are increasingly turning to Australian beef for its freshness and quality, the greatest threat on home soil is competition from cheap overseas imports. Local meat processing plants are investing in automation to optimise resources (time, money, raw materials and labour) to be competitive in the domestic market and offer consumers the best value proposition.
3. Keeping pace with consumer demands: paddock to plate identification.
The 21st century consumer is prepared to pay a premium for niche products – organic, antibiotic free, brand name, breed specific, Halal and Kosher – every niche market is catered for. On the one hand consumers are willing to pay top dollar, but on the other they want a guarantee that what they’re getting is genuine. Thanks to modern tracking, tracing and automation, paddock to plate identification has never been easier and it’s not just the food regulators who are demanding it.
4. Biosecurity, food hygiene and safety.
The demand for paddock to plate identification is not just a consumer trend; mandatory process traceability in the meat sector reduces contamination and aids biosecurity measures. Australia is renowned for producing clean, green and safe meat products and this has traditionally underpinned its exporting success. Traceability and quality assurance measures are commonplace across the globe to ensure market access and growth in demand.
Traceability refers to the tracking of any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution (including importation and retail). It means that movements can be traced one step forward and one step backward at any point in the supply chain. The problem with this methodology is that it doesn’t account for the tracing of raw materials through the factory and into the finished product. For this reason, many plants are investing in sophisticated automation and technology systems with the capacity to trace the meat right down to the raw materials.
5. Aids organisational/operational intelligence
Automation doesn’t just replace manual labour; it performs tasks that humans cannot. This enables people to be redeployed elsewhere in the business where they can better add to its value. As a result, the overall efficiency of the operation improves as does organisational intelligence.