Four tech-takeouts from the world’s best at IFFA

It’s not every day most of us stop to think about the nitty gritty of our food processing systems, but at Wiley, we are always seeking a better way. Packaging machines, conveyor systems and contamination detectors machines are vital links of our food system; the vanguard protecting the community from destructive food waste and sickening contamination. The bounty of food we take for granted in every isle of every supermarket is in no small part due to the exceptional innovation going on in our food processing sector. This array of innovation is nowhere better on display than IFFA at the Messe Frankfurt in Germany, the world’s leading meat processing conference. Two of Wiley’s meat processing gurus attended the 2019 event to bring the world’s best meat processing innovations and knowledge back to Australia.

Wiley’s Jeff Marsden and Peter Thomson spent five days, visiting many of the 1000 exhibitors spread over the 110,000 m² of floor space. Jeff has almost 30 years of experience as a problem solver in the red meat industry. As one of Wiley’s leading experts on mat processing faculties, layouts and equipment, Jeff brings another level of experience and perspective to meat industry projects. Peter brings almost 40 years of experience as a design engineer to the Wiley team. Hailing from New Zealand, Peter has worked on beef industry projects in Australia, NZ and even the USA.
Here they share with us their top three technological finds from the event:

1. Ulma packaging solutions

Among the many stands visited, Jeff and Peter took time to learn about Ulma, a packaging manufacturer working to reduce plastic waste and enable a circular economy.
The great challenge of food packaging is the fact that 30% of food we produce goes to waste, in large part due to spoilage. The challenge for packaging designers is that when packaging is reduced, spoilage is often increased. Thus, designers must find a way to simultaneously reduce the environmental impact of packaging and maintain or improve the ability of the packaging to prevent spoilage. Ulma is reducing the direct impact of their packaging through reduced material use, biodegradability and enhanced recyclability. With this in mind, Ulma can deliver the best of both worlds, reducing packaging waste and spoilage at the same time.The Ulma LeafSkin line uses 80% less plastic. The innovative design makes the whole product fully recyclable because unlike other packages, all the separate materials can be separated. Wiley looks forward to seeing wider usage of exciting, sustainable technologies such as Ulma packaging in the Australian food sector.

2. ModaVac rotary vacuum packer

IFFA also featured one of the most mechanically elegant and efficient vacuum packing machines on the market. The ModaVac rotary vacuum packer is capable of packing 34-40 packages a minute with 300 fewer moving parts compared to conventional systems. “The ModaVac rotary is especially interesting because it opens up possibilities for boning room floor layouts with a linear throughput.”
This means that the ModaVac can be more easily incorporated into a production line, opening the door for more efficient and compact meat facilities. Wiley is proud to have worked with Moda on a past project, incorporating their cutting-edge equipment into Wiley’s state-of-the-art faculties.

3. Starvac Jupiter

An interesting alternative to the ModaVac is the Starvac Jupiter. This solution uses two articulating vacuum chambers which, instead of rotating with the product, slide back and forth (action shown here). This solution achieves a similar throughput to the Modavac, and is even more spatially efficient, opening up yet more boning room layouts. The drawback of this solution is that when one of the two vacuum chambers is disabled, the machine loses 50% of its capacity. This is in contrast to the 1/8th or 1/10th that one would normally lose with a rotary system.

4. AIRA Robotics & Frontmatec automated beef splitting robot

While the technology of the kill floor is well established and therefore goes through little disruptive innovation, Wiley is constantly on the lookout for new technology, processes and solutions. Frontmatec & AIRA Robotics presented a circular saw automated beef splitting robot. Splitting is a highly skilled process which requires highly trained workers in order achieve reliable results. While there have been a handful of solutions developed in the past, the AIRA Frontmatec solution is unique because of its use of a circular saw. A circular saw solution presents the opportunity for greater speed but increased downtime, as the large 600mm+ saw blade will need to be sharpened regularly, while it is possible to have multiple blades and swap them out, it is not clear how regularly this would be needed. According to Jeff, a blade like that may need to be sharpened at least once a shift. Wiley hopes to support wider implementation of this promising technology once it reaches full technological maturity.

IFFA is just one example of the continuous efforts Wiley makes to explore at the cutting edge of technology in the food processing world. Wiley is excited to share what we discover and our wealth of experience to help our clients make a difference and create a better future food facility.