In recent years the meat industry has suffered significant decline due to the continued pressures of low prices, higher costs and the consequences of livestock diseases. Classification is an important tool for ensuring fair payment to the producer, as well as serving as a tool for contributing to the transparency of the market. Enabling efficient and effective classification will ensure SME livestock breeders and dealers achieve optimal prices for their meat carcass. The European classification scheme is the S/EUROP system. Yet still today, current methods of classification are very much based on human visual evaluation, which by its nature represents a subjective, labour intensive, relatively slow process which depends on the expertise of the classifying expert. A need also exists to enable the classification of individual cuts of meat in a much more efficient manner, information which is of utmost importance in the prime cuts segment of the higher end of the market. Enabling meat processors to classify products for different markets and packers to provide the consumer with better product information will ensure that meat is correctly classified according to its quality. Magnetic Induction Tomography (MIT) is a contact-less method for mapping the electrical conductivity of tissue. The technique is particularly attractive for the detection of pathological processes such as the identification of tumours. This project will look into developing this technology and adapting it to a very specific application, that of the determination of the conductivity of meat in multiple sectors. The project will also use low-cost vision cameras to provide carcass geometric data (lengths, widths, volumes, etc). The overall technical objectives will aim at the development of a non-contact prototype system, which will be capable of measuring the lean proportion of transversal sections of pig, beef and sheep carcass and will be approved for the SEUROP classification.
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