Chilling or freezing is a critical step in the processing of carcases. It is energy intensive, and correct chilling and freezing regimes are important in optimising eating quality.
See separate summary on this technology area.
Chiller automation research
The conventional practice in meat processing chillers is to manually batch product prior to the product being progressed into the boning room. With high volumes of carcases being processed, manual processes can often be unreliable and are very labour intensive. Chiller automation supported by radio frequency identification RFID is an initiative to streamline this important task and implement more reliable database driven solutions.
Carcases are graded and then logically grouped, which then allows boning rosters and schedules to be efficiently executed. The benefits to the supply chain are an improved level of carcase traceability, the potential to make carcase grading data available for further supply chain optimisation, increased consistency of production and thereby increased value of products, with a contribution to labour supply sustainability.
The scoping study P.PSH.0557 estimated the potential value proposition for lamb processing plants by implementing automated carcase handling into and out of chillers using RFID traceability. Automated carcase handling is not a new idea. However, existing sorting systems do not provide individual carcase traceability, nor do they provide the enabling platform required to utilise other existing technologies that can improve supply chain profit.
C02 refrigeration research
Under project P.PSH.0186, MLA co-funded Australia’s first industrial refrigeration system utilizing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) refrigerant for freezing cartoned meat in a fully automatic mechanised carton freezing tunnel, as well as the associated frozen and chilled storage and sorting and loading areas. Realcold Milmech Pty Ltd, working with meat industry consultant and project manager Meateng, designed, installed and commissioned this ambitious, innovative and energy efficient system utilizing a CO2 ammonia cascade refrigeration system and a Realcold automatic air blast carton freezing tunnel.
Early refrigeration research
Prior to 2005, numerous studies and fact sheets were created by MLA's predecessors as well as CSIRO. These are shown as attached reports starting with REF project codes.
In project MRR.296 (1996), the relative advantages of small capacity plate and air blast freezers for the freezing of cartoned meat were investigated.
Recent refrigeration research
P.PSH.0476 Chiller Shrink Project at Teys Beenleigh. The key objective of this project was to determine the level of chiller shrink at the Teys Beenleigh site as there was a perception that there are quantities of shrink which could be potentially reduced. Accurate measurements needed to be taken in order to establish if work is required with the refrigeration process at Teys Beenleigh. This project with the assistance from MLA would give a definitive result on what shrink is occurring to the carcasses whilst in the chillers, from this decisions could be made as to if the shrink is at an acceptable level or if changers needed to be made. However, it was concluded that the results were not enough to determine the true performance of the Beenleigh chillers.