Skip to main content

Automatic scanner for determing lean meat distribution in pig carcasses

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - gmSCAN (Automatic scanner for determing lean meat distribution in pig carcasses)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-05-31

Meat industry is an important sector, generating worldwide an annual turnover of $360b, and €203.4b in the EU28. In 2016, the production of pigmeat in the EU28 reached 23.5 million tonnes. Pig carcass classification is an important tool to ensure fair payment to the producer. It also contributes to the transparency of the market and for comparing prices among different countries. The European Union stablished specific regulation on carcass classification based on the total lean meat content in relation to the carcass weight.
Beyond the legal obligations, abattoirs are increasingly interested in establishing more accurate methods to sort carcasses and meat primal cuts (e.g. ham, loin, belly and shoulder) according to their lean meat content. Such procedures allow them to establish product segments targeted to different markets, and therefore constitute an effective means to increase the overall value of their production.
The overall goal of this project is to develop a qualified gmSCAN system to automatically grade pig carcasses according to the SEUROP scheme, and to provide an accurate prediction of the LMP in the ham, loin, belly and shoulder.
This innovation project will contribute to improving the quality of processed meat products, by means of providing pig slaughtering industry with an affordable technology for segmenting pig carcasses and primal cuts.
First Period: Development of gmSCAN demonstrators including functional tests before integration at the slaughterhouse (WP1). After performing functional tests at the slaughterhouse, the demonstrators has been optimised to improve its robustness and to comply with industry requirements (WP2). The demonstrator was installed in a Spanish slaughterhouse to carry out functional tests and the optimisation of the electronic instrumentation and sensor system (WP3).

Second Period: Development of two final systems based on the previous demonstrator (WP2) and its integration in slaughterhouses in Spain and Poland (WP3). The certification process has been carried out in Spain and Poland. The certification protocols I and II has been prepared according to Regulation CE Nº 1249/2008 (WP4). After the certification trials, the prediction models for the pig carcass classification (SEUROP) and the primal cuts (WP4) has been developed and the documentation and procedures to pass the CE Certification has been prepared and submitted to the Committee of experts (WP4). The prediction models has been integrated into the gmSCAN system and a procedure for system calibration and calibration transfer to other gmSCAN units has been developed (WP2). The final gmSCAN systems has been validated at industrial level over a period of 6 months (WP3). A commercialisation plan has been prepared, and the IPR generated has been protected via patent filling and the identification and registration of trade secrets (WP5). Several communication actions with the pig slaughtering sector and to other audiences has been carried out including the assistance to trade fairs, demonstration events, website update, presentation in a congress, press release in regional and national magazines, preparation of a scientific publication, preparation of dissemination material (promotional video, poster, etc.) and direct communications with sectorial associations and slaughterhouses among other activities (WP6).
Progress beyond the state of the art
The main innovation of this project deals with the development a contactless technology for the automatic grading of pig carcasses (SEUROP classification), and the determination of the lean meat percentage and weight of the ham, loin, belly and shoulder.
gmSCAN provides key advantages for the industry. Their prediction models are not affected by pig breed and/or genetic variations. Moreover gmSCAN can be easily integrated in the processing line as the scanner has been designed to operate in a vertical position, and therefore, can be readily adapted to the normal way in which carcasses are moved through the processing line.

Expected Impact on the pig slaughtering sector
gmSCAN will bring several benefits to the slaughter sector. Such benefits will contribute to improve the quality and standardization of fresh meat products, and therefore will indirectly benefit to the whole meat processing sector.
Automation of the grading process: The automation of the carcass grading operation will not only represent savings in operational costs, but also increased revenues due to the fact that automatic grading systems are more accurate than manual probes. gmSCAN will constitute an affordable and reliable tool for sorting carcasses with different genetic characteristics. Such improvement in the sorting accuracy will allow abattoirs to establish well-define segments of carcasses according to their lean content, which will increase the overall carcass value. Moreover, the improvement in the carcass sorting process will result in an improvement in the consistency of the quality of their products, which will contribute to increase their customer satisfaction and will open new market possibilities.
Sorting of primal cuts according to lean meat content: Besides the grading of the carcass, gmSCAN will provide accurate information on the lean meat content and the weight of primal cuts. Such information is extremely important for slaughterhouses that further process carcasses to produce different meat products. The accurate segmentation of meat primal cuts represents substantial revenues. Such revalorization arises from the fact that slaughterhouses can commercialize each product segment in the most adequate market.
On the other hand, the determination of the weight and the lean content of the primal cuts allows a more adequate planning of the cutting operations in the cutting plant, thus optimizing the production process, reducing in some cases wasted meat and increase yield, and dealing to an overall reduction of production costs.

Socio-economic aspects
gmSCAN solution will contribute to the continued growth of the European pigmeat sector by improving product quality, and by extension, consumer appeal and satisfaction. Accurate primal cut sorting will result in the production of higher quality products (low salt, low fat content), and will reduce technological problems during meat processing. As a representative example, in the dry-cured meat sector the heterogeneity in lean meat content leads to a number of quality and technological problems that cause multi-million losses for the sector. European pig processors are facing increased competition, both within EU and from outside of the community. Ensuring the quality of their product is vital to their ability to compete in this ever-changing, more competitive market.

Wider societal implications
gmSCAN solution will contribute to job satisfaction and conditions by reducing the stress associated with human dependency and the inherent possibility of human error, as in some instances staff (or independent meat grading experts) may have to evaluate large numbers of pig carcasses over a short period of time. Moreover gmSCAN solution will contribute to preserve the health of the employees and to attract sufficient good labour to the industry, by avoiding current repetitive operations associated to the use of carcass grading manual probes.
gmSCAN demostrator
Integration of gmSCAN at slaughterhouses
Integration of gmSCAN at slaughterhouses