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Birtwistle Catering Butchers switches from hand cutting to automatic portioning using Marel’s I-Cut 36

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Birtwistle Catering Butchers switches from hand cutting to automatic portioning using Marel’s I-Cut 36

January 24
11:44 2013

Continuing increases in demand, along with the obvious need to remain competitive, led Birtwistle Catering Butchers, a fourth generation family business that was purchased 12 months ago by Steve Woollands, to make the monumental decision in early 2012 to switch from cutting by hand to automatic portioning of their quality meat products. 

An extensive search for the right machine led Operations Director, Glenn Eastwood to Marel UK, whose I-Cut 36 Portioner seemed to comprehensively fulfill Birtwistle’s requirements and specification. 

Extensive trials took place prior to purchase. These soon revealed the machine’s impressive ability to operate with minimal supervision and at a rate that greatly increased production output. The machine has more than met expectations. It operates day and night and has substantially increased production and, of course, better deployed and greatly reduced the cost of labour.

“Before the I-Cut arrived on the scene we had seven employees cutting the meat by hand, but now just two operate the machine. And not only has the installation of the machine meant a release of manpower to be used elsewhere, we have also been able to increase the volume of processed products”, Glenn Eastwood explains.

“The machine’s ability and flexibility makes it perfect for our operation. Our orders can quickly change and the I-Cut makes it is easy for us to quickly modify production plans thanks to its easy programming. Furthermore the I-Cut is capable of cutting not just beef steaks, but most of our products like pork belly, pork neck or gammon”, Glenn Eastwood continues.

“A true portion cutter”

The I-Cut 36 is a true portion cutter, with a capacity that enables high throughput for virtually any size of business especially those who may believe that automation is too large an investment.

But as Glenn Eastwood points out, “This is not just a “steak machine” and you don’t need a large pub contract to have the volume to run with this portion cutter. We benefit greatly from the machine’s flexibility, which is a great advantage when responding to changes in orders as often as we do. It significantly enhances our ability to fulfill the company strategy of being completely flexible and capable of reacting immediately to customer’s daily needs as part of our total service vision. Operating it is not something that requires weeks and weeks of training. Our first operator was quickly trained by Marel to handle the machine, and even when we had to switch operators we were up and running after just one day of training. This is thanks to both the easy handling of the machine and the great service we have received from Marel. The overall experience we have had with Marel has been phenomenal”.

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