Case Studies & Field Reports

Stainless-steel touch computers monitor meat safety

April 1, 2010
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Computer-based downtime reduced by 80%.

Olymel uses noax sealed industrial PCs to track all pertinent information on its meat products, and at the final weight point, data is compared with the expected data on the labels to verify traceable information. Source: noax Technologies.


Olymel, a major Canadian pork and poultry producer, slaughters and processes roughly 122,000 hogs and 1.4 million birds weekly at its 26 facilities in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. It then distributes its products in grocery meat departments and self-serve coolers, hotels, restaurants and institutions throughout Canada, the US, Australia, Japan and 60 other countries.

A meat processing plant is a punishing environment requiring frequent washdowns and sanitation with disinfectant chemicals and high-pressure water streams. Temperatures extremes can run from sub-freezing cold storage to high heat that causes moist air to fog up computer screens and make them unreadable. “The problem was that our computers were not responding to our demands; they were basically homemade and often broken,” says Michel Lord, Olymel’s sector director for equipment and technology.

“We depend on recording data using these computers, data that we need to help ensure the safety of our process. So when the computer cannot do its job, we have to stop the line, and that is costly to our operation.” Lord looked at replacing the old computers with industrially-hardened machines and decided to try noax Technologies after a partner discovered the supplier at a regional Chicago trade fair. The noax Steel Series PCs use food-grade, polished stainless-steel enclosures meeting IP65 (NEMA 4) standards.

Lord put the computers to the test in his environment. First he connected the computer to the network and hosed it down. There was “no seepage between the window,” said Lord. “This is typically a big problem with computers. When the area gets hot, you can’t see the screen, and the mist fogs up the display. The noax computer does not have that problem,” he concluded.

Cold temperatures can knock a computer out of action. “I meant to leave the noax computer in the freezer for an hour,” says Lord, “but after forgetting about it for over a day, I hooked up the computer and it worked!” Finally, he dropped the computer into a pool for ten seconds. The immersion failed to impede the computer’s operation. “After all of the torture testing, I told my boss I wanted these computers.”

The computers are stationed along the inspection line to receive data on the carcass before it is processed. They enable plant employees to feed data to the company’s mainframe system using the touch screen as product moves along the process. At the packaging stations, box contents and weight are entered into the computer and are matched with the information.

The computers previously had been used for data collection only. During meat processing, the computers help traffic cartons to their final destination. When the boxed-up pork is ready to leave, the conveyor leads it up to a motion scale. The weight is captured, and the industrial computer directs a printer to apply a label to the box.

Olymel uses 230 industrial computers throughout its plants. Having acquired its first units in 2001, many are still being used today. “Since we started using noax computers,” says Lord, “we have seen our computer downtime drop by 80%”.

For more information:
Jonathan Staub, 704-992-1606 x202, jstaub@noaxna.com

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

FE September 2014

2014 September

The September 2014 issue of Food Engineering explores how lean manufacturing, quality improvements and increased automation helps processors meet rapidly changing demands. Also, read how robotics, advanced machine controls, software and OEE are just a few of the tools that can boost productivity on packaging lines.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +