IMS Symposium

Meat technology only as good as the users, says professor

By Flemmich Webb

- Last updated on GMT

Technology is only as good as the user
Technology is only as good as the user

Related tags Better Processing equipment & plant design

Technology can improve the efficiency of meat production systems and deliver higher output, but only if there is meaningful interaction between systems and their operators. This should be built into the design stage, said Ole Broberg, associate professor, DTU Management Engineering, production and service management, speaking at the IMS Symposium on Future Industrial Meat Production in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Technology is always used in a context – designers need to consider the particular work environment the technology will be operating in. If you change one part of the process, how will that affect other processes?​" he asked.

“What can be a challenge is that designers sometimes have a varied degree of understanding of the uses of the technology they are creating.”

Strategies for engaging stakeholders include scale models, layout design games and table-top simulations. “All these can lead to better interactions between designers, developers and users,”​ said Broberg.

Lars Bager Christensen, senior consultant IT solutions at DMRI, suggested that technology could have a positive impact on the food production industry by improving quality and driving higher outputs.

Virtual cutting is turned into actual cutting by combining CT scanned carcase data with operator input, and is used to design more accurate robotic cutting machines. Machines are designed to be flexible and adaptive by adding biological variation data into the programme design, so they can adjust to different inputs and still deliver cut quality.

Augmented reality, such as the use of X-ray scanners to check for bone fragments in boneless pork belly cuts, for example, helps operators do their job better, which leads to improved product quality. “Augmented reality can mean higher capacity and can take the guesswork out of inspection regimes,”​ said Christensen.

But new technology on its own will not necessarily deliver these advantages – companies need to constantly optimise their processes and communication channels if they want to avoid a decline in performance. “The key is the interaction between management, training and awareness,”​ said Henrik Grothe, team manager, plant layout, DMRI. “When that happens, you get optimisation.”

He warned management of becoming so used to processes that they became de-sensitised to changes that might be hampering production efficiency and quality. “Managers need to be constantly aware of what is going on – even if they are used to what is going on. ‘Fresh eyes’ are a good thing,”​ he said.

He added that management systems should deliver meaningful information from the data they collect rather than allow it to remain “hidden and unused”​ on spreadsheets, and that training “is a continuous process, not a finalised task”.

“Knowledge transfer must be structured and validated, which means having people within the organisation who are constantly updated and who can disseminate that information among their colleagues.”

Related topics Meat

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