Waterless lamb frenching: reducing 210,000 knifing path actions per shift to zero
- Solution providers wanting to demonstrate and evolve an offering in 'waterless frenching' and demonstrate it in meat processing environments
- Solution providers wishing to validate conceptual designs and/or build and evaluate initial prototypes that reduce human effort, water and energy consumption
Industry challenge: Repetitive knife cutting actions typically employed by operational staff in Australia to produce “frenched” lamb racks create both a WHS repetitive strain and knife laceration safety concern. With each 8-rib rack requiring at least 21 knife actions (and up to 23), this activity results in up to 210,000 knife actions per operational shift within a plant operating at 10 carcases per minute. Frenching is also the final point of product presentation handling (and inspection) prior to a consumer purchasing the product.
Current situation: In Australia, most processing facilities rely on operational staff with knives to undertake this activity. There are instances in Australian plants using the McLaren Stainless water frenching solution. Although this solution works well it is not suitable for all Australian locations due to the water usage, water source, and resulting trade waste additional load with the product (intercostals) and water being discharged to drain. For these reasons, some Australian processors (39%) would prefer to use a waterless solution.
Past R&D: The industry has supported a number of investigations into waterless frenching including using wire cutting, ice jet cutting and robotic knives. These have all had a level of success but none to date have resulted in a commercial product offering.
- Wire cutting (Report link)
- Ice jet cutting (Report link)
- Using needles to determine where the intercostals/ribs locations are (Report link)
- An industry report on the implementation of the McLaren iFrench unit, a commercially viable unit that is compact and simple to use (Report link)
AMPC would like to hear from providers/developers who believe that they could develop a solution that:
- Remove operational staff from knifing (and holding) the product. Of the two removing the knife actions is the main foci (and hence semi-automated solutions are also an acceptable consideration).
- Uses no water (during operations).
- Recovers the intercostal as a saleable product item. Ideally can remove the intercostals as a single 'finger' of meat.
AMPC is seeking submissions from providers/ developers that are wanting to validate conceptual ideas and/or are ready to build and evaluate those designs in an engineering workshop.
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