Japanese company Mayekawa is doing what many up till now had believed to be impossible – introducing robots to the meat processing industry. In 2011, Mayekawa launched Yieldas-eye, a robot that can debone 1 500 chicken breasts/ hour – 10 times faster than manual labour.
“The most important thing in removing chicken meat from bones is the process of making shallow cuts,” says Mayekawa’s Atushi Suzuki, quoted in roboticstomorrow.com. “The manual process is an excellent one and we make it a point to make ours as close to it as we can.”
The robot makes shallow cuts at the tip of the shoulder and around the collarbone. It recognises images taken by the camera and changes the depth and location of the cuts for each chicken. Then it pulls the meat off of the bone.
“After this, some white breast meat still remains on the bone,” explains Suzuki. “At the end of the process, the robot makes a shallow cut there and removes the white breast meat, so that finally it has removed the breast meat, wing base, wing tip, and white breast meat hidden behind the breast from the bone, and all that’s left are bones.”
All of this is carried out hygienically. The robot has become sought-after outside of Japan as breast meat is growing to be more popular than thigh meat, adds Suzuki.
Efficient, productive and safe
In addition to the breast remover Yieldas-Eye, Mayekawa has designed a poultry deboner (Toridas) and a pork deboner (Hamdas-R). Every robot is designed to achieve outstanding energy and water conservation and labour savings, says Suzuki. The robots are also highly efficient, operating at low temperatures to improve processing quality and yield ratio.
Another significant advantage is the virtual elimination of worker injuries in the industry. According to the US Department of Labour, these are 100% above those in general manufacturing operations.