An entry-level semi-automatic solution for the Middle East
In the Middle East, the whole chicken is still the most popular poultry meat product. Cut-up parts are, however, gaining ground and now make up some 20 to 30% of processing plant production, a share which is growing significantly. The so-called Family Pack, a fixed-weight collection of chicken pieces in a tray, is particularly popular with Middle-Eastern consumers. The Marel TargetBatcher offers an entry-level but smart solution for assembling family packs. It needs neither a large investment nor a large number of people.
Processors, particularly in the Middle East, used to producing whole chicken only, see their market changing. Cut parts are gradually taking up 20 to 30% of the market. These processors need to produce fixed-weight products too. They don’t, however, want to invest a lot of money right away.
A fixed-weight collection
The Marel TargetBatcher combined with a prefill conveyor system and a gooseneck infeed conveyor is the ideal entry-level solution for assembling fixed-weight Family Packs. It is a semi-automatic batching system for packing and styling assorted products on fixed-weight trays. First, trays are manually pre-filled with random drumsticks, thighs and fillets to which the TargetBatcher adds the part necessary to bring the pack to its target weight.
Prefilling with experience
To make a 900 grams [2 lbs] Family Pack, each tray passes a number of pre-fill stations, where operators insert drumsticks, breasts and thighs. They know from experience which pieces together make about 800-850 grams [1.7-1.8 lbs] and do not exceed 900 grams [2 lbs].
Wings, the last products to complete a Family Pack, are added semi-automatically by TargetBatcher. These wings are fed from a gooseneck z-conveyor, which transports them from a large collecting container. Standing on the raised TargetBatcher platform, an operator loads the wings onto the seven weighing scales of the machine. Trays, which have been pre-filled manually, pass by and are weighed on the lower conveyor below. TargetBatcher now calculates as quick as lightning what weight is needed to bring packs closest to 900g [2 lbs], considering a minimal total weight. It automatically drops one, two or three wings from its memory bins to complete the batch.
The wings added fall between the flights of a flighted conveyor belt. When leaving the TargetBatcher, this belt synchronizes with the conveyor with pre-filled trays, which is running alongside. On arrival at the PaceLine system, operators manually add the wings to the tray and style the products for an attractive presentation. Trays then proceed to a CheckWeigher, a tray sealer and a WeighPrice Labeler, concluding the process.
“A semi-automatic batching system for packing and styling assorted products on fixed-weight trays.”
A Family Pack TargetBatcher installation like this is very flexible and can still be used for regular fixed-weight batching. It is also possible to manually load fresh or frozen drumsticks, thighs or breast pieces directly onto the seven weighing scales of the TargetBatcher. With seven high-accuracy individual scales and 14 holding bins, TargetBatcher calculates in a fraction of a second the best possible combination of products to assemble a batch of products to the predetermined target weight. Fixed-weight batches leave TargetBatcher on a flighted conveyor, while empty trays run alongside on a synchronized belt. Operators on this PaceLine system pick each batch of meat and style the products on trays.