Increasing Product Sampling of Chicken Breasts with Automated Inspection

Recently, Sightline had the opportunity to work with a leading producer of poultry products in the US. Used by restaurants across the country and distributed via major retailers, this company aims to provide products of the highest quality, optimizing its vertically integrated operations with the use of pioneering technologies.

Boneless, skinless, butterfly chicken breasts form the basis of some of the company’s most popular products, which are prepared in batches of up to 40,000 lb.

In the original process, approximately 200 lb (0.5%) of each batch is sampled to verify the size and additional observable features through visual inspection and caliper measurement as part of its official incoming acceptance procedures.

The results are noted by hand and are sent to downstream teams to manually input the data into the company’s current quality assurance systems.

Challenge

According to the measurement data acquired by the incoming QA team, the butterfly breasts are moved to the cutting area to be divided into chunks, strips, and fillets after being inspected and graded.

Dependable measurements are crucial in order to enhance the downstream processes and produce superior end products that adhere to the guidelines laid out by their own regulatory bodies and customers while avoiding unnecessary waste.

The company identified that the current procedure of manual inspection was at risk of variability and subjective observation by different operators. For example, one inspector may apply more pressure to a caliper than another due to the malleable nature of poultry, which produces conflicting measurements for the same piece.

Objectives

With the aim of maximizing the efficiency and scope of this incoming inspection process, the quality assurance and operations teams at the company identified the following goals:

  1. Increase the accuracy and reliability of quality inspections.
  2. Sample a greater amount of incoming product within the same time frame.
  3. Automate the acquisition of inspection data in a digital format that can be shared on current systems.
  4. Acquire a greater range of characteristic and measurement data during the process of inspection.

Sightline Process Controls, Inc. was contracted to achieve these goals and to assess the solutions available for this application. The Sightline BT-300X, Washdown Benchtop 3D Visual Inspection System was the system determined to achieve the customer’s goals.


Chicken breasts in production ready for quality control inspection

Figure 1. Chicken breast ready for quality inspection and packaging. 

Solution

The BT-300X Washdown Benchtop Measurement System from Sightline was chosen due to its 2D/3D vision features, combined with its portability and suitability for a washdown environment.

Increasing Product Sampling of Chicken Breasts with Automated Inspection

Within one day at the customer’s facility, a Sightline technician configured and calibrated the BT-300X and taught the employees how to control the unit. For simple extraction at any time, the data gathered by the BT-300X is stored in an SQL database and is presented to the operators during inspection.

Data could be automatically transferred as the existing SPC software that the customer utilized was simply integrated into the Sightline system. The Sightline measura™ Inspection and Analytics software modules were effectively used to offer detailed metrics and reporting which were customized to the specific operations of the customer.

3D Imaging with Sightline Automated Inspection System.

Figure 2. 3D Imaging with Sightline Automated Inspection System.

Results

After the Sightline BT-300X was installed, the operations team efficiently embraced the new system. In the first quarter, operators were testing 1,700 butterfly breasts per month, which is an average increase of 380% in relation to the manual procedures used prior to the deployment of the Sightline solution.

The enhanced reliability and accuracy of the automated measurements, along with the significantly increased number of data points collected by the BT-300X system, resulted in higher quality, a decrease in waste, and higher productivity in downstream processing operations.

Inspection results can be assessed by the company’s managers in real-time using both Sightline’s measura™ Analytics along with the company’s current software, enabling data-driven decisions to be made.

All four of the outlined inspection goals were met and the customer has utilized further Sightline BT-300X systems in its different manufacturing hubs throughout the country. The company is also discussing the opportunity to employ Sightline for finished product inspection.

This information has been sourced, reviewed, and adapted from materials provided by Sightline Process Control Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Sightline Process Control Inc.

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