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Radford 2D traceability in smallstock processing

Project start date: 15 October 2014
Project end date: 07 July 2016
Publication date: 01 September 2015
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Lamb, Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
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Supply chain traceability includes a variety of technologies and standards, which allow information flows both within processing plants and between supply chain partners. Actual measurement technologies are summarised under the topic 'Eating Quality', within Measurement & Intervention.
Research has been carried out within a variety of technology areas.
2D bar codes (Radford)
In project P.PIP.0312, to increase both production and sales, R Radford and Son set an objective to develop a traceability system that assured the integrity of claimed “Certified Organic” and “MSA” meats along the supply chain for both boned and carcass beef and sheep-meats.   The incorporation of 2D bar-coding and SmartPhone technology with an appropriately modified stock processing system was proposed as the most cost effective and efficient means to capture, store, integrate and retrieve the necessary data to achieve the objective.  Through desk-top research and empirical analysis, this scoping project tested the proposal by assessing Radford’s supply chain partners and likely consumer response to assured traceability, examination of 2D Bar Coding and SmartPhone technologies as they relate to the project and precise mapping of Radford’s current and proposed stock processing system.
Under the MLA and DEPI funded project P.PIP.0452, Radford completed implementation of a 2D based tracking system within their plant, based on results from the above project.
The results of this project, as well as a related cost/benefit analysis that covered and compared both 2D and RFID based in-plant carase identification, are fully decibed in the final reports relating to project P.PIP.0452.
The overall conclusion was that the 2D technology was a effective low cost alternative to a more expensive RF ID based traceability system for smaller plants.  However, it should be seen as an 'enabler' for mandated traceability or producer feedback, rather than an investment that would, on its own, be commercially viable.
Gambrel (skid mark) bar coding
A series of related projects (A.SCT.0025, as well as P.PSH.0274, 0294 and 0440) funded the development of bar codes for skidmark identification at CRF Colac. This was done in collaboration with the New Zealand commercialiser, Cumberland.
The project trialled a new technology concept that was to provide a cost effective and reliable means of integrating the bobby calf and sheep NLIS system into abattoir operations and extending traceability through the plant systems to provide complete information tracking to customers.  The Direct Skid Mark Identification System involved directly forming machine readable codes on items and tracking these items.  This technology might have provided a means by which animal identification including RFID ear tags could be transported through the process floor processes from the restraining conveyor to the weighing and grading process, but the project was terminated prior to stage 3, primarily owing to difficulties in reliably bar coding the skids and that the system would never be commercially viable.
Radio Frequency (RF) identification
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology provides the opportunity to accurately track and monitor individual sheep from farm to abattoir. The ability to monitor individual animal performance provides opportunities to identify groups of animals that have similar traits and then apply better management strategies to deal with those similarities. Historically abattoir feedback has provided information on lines of sheep. The ability to gain carcass feedback on individual animals from the abattoirs would add value to the changing on-farm management regimes. The potential threat from exotic disease outbreaks has also increased the importance of being able to trace individual animals from farm to abattoir. This project was undertaken due to the fact there was no tracking system available for a sheep abattoir.
In 2009, project V.NLS.3003 demonstrated the opportunities associated with RFID devices, combined with automated abattoir systems, to reliably link RFID animal identification with carcase identification until food safety inspection is completed and carcase feedback data generated by the abattoir. This included: Identification of the technical issues and resources required within the processing sector to allow NLIS (Sheep & Goats) to migrate from a visual tag identifier to RFID device (if required). These technical issues were identified through the installation and operation of a system in an abattoir that links RFID on sheep to an abattoir RFID system.To cover the potential for NLIS (Sheep and Goats) to be RFID and individual animal based, and the ability to transfer individual identity from RFID to an automated abattoir system.
Better tracing of identity within abattoirs would allow differential purchasing based on processing performance, and facilitate better feedback to producers.  Such systems could subsequently be extended through to retail if/when commercial drivers emerged.
Projects A.SCT.0005 and A.SCT.0017 were able to demonstrate that a sheep electronic identification (EID) could be captured within an abattoir environment and associated to a skid and gambrel radio frequency identification (RFID). This in turn linked the individual sheep EID with its carcass information. Associated software systems were developed to record the RFID information, track the carcass to the weigh scales and record weight and fat for each carcass. The system was developed on a non-inverted chain at Hillside Abattoir in Narrogin, Western Australia. It was tested with the assistance of three Q lamb producers supplying lambs fitted with EID eartags, to Hillside Abattoir. The EIDs of these lambs were successfully assigned to an RFID embedded skid and gainbrel and the data was automatically captured at the weight and grade station and recorded in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Project A.SCC.0027 undertook FEA stress evaluation of meat skids to identify the best position to implement RFID tags on skids (gambrels).
Project A.SCC.0032 funded costs for the 2008 EPC/RFID Australian Advisory Group.
Project A.SCC.0016 funded technical advice to MLA regarding RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).
Grading and assessment information systems
Project P.PIP.0166 was undertaken to gain efficiencies in the process of chiller assessing at Teys. To achieve this outcome it was proposed to fully integrate the MSA Carcase Grading and MSA Chiller Assessment system within the Teys production software system.

More information

Project manager: George Waldthausen
Primary researcher: R Radford & Son Pty Limited