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Marel Introduces Next Generation of Whitefish Processing Lines

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Marel Introduces Next Generation of Whitefish Processing Lines

Marel Introduces Next Generation of Whitefish Processing Lines
March 04
15:30 2014

Whitefish processing is about to take a giant leap forward, with the launch of Marel’s FleXicut, a trimming robot for high precision bone detection and removal.

The bones in whitefish are notoriously difficult to locate and remove, and the process traditionally requires a lot of skilled labour. The automation of this process with FleXicut is therefore set to reshape the whitefish industry, as it not only reduces the need for skilled labour, but also greatly improves product handling and yields.

FleXicut incorporates two critical processing steps in one machine; locating the pinbones precisely, and cutting/trimming to remove the bones. The equipment consists of high resolution X-ray detection, image control, and a water-jet cutting mechanism for removing pinbones.

“Determining the orientation of the bones is critical to improving the yield,” explains Marel’s director of product development Kristjan Hallvardsson. Cutting out less flesh on the V-cut will leave more on the loin. He adds: “At present, 6-10% of the fillet is removed manually by the V-cut to take out the pinbones. The goal is to achieve as much as 2-4% improvement in yield, which represents significant added value for our customers.”

Marel has more than 30 years’ experience in the fish processing industry and has built on its extensive expertise in portioning, X-ray, and robot technology to develop the FleXicut. This innovative trimming robot uses the latest X-ray technology to locate the pinbones with high accuracy, and then remove them.

By using water-jets for the bone removal process, which is more flexible than blade cutting, the FleXicut can perform a variety of cutting patterns, and the angle cutting option allows it to follow the curved lines of the bone frame very closely, thereby further reducing pinbone material. This means significant yield gains in the loin – the most valuable part of the fish.

The automation of the process enables processors to produce bone-free products with virtually no manual handling and introduce new products such as skin-on loins and baby fillets.

An important feature of Marel’s FleXicut is that the X-ray scanning and water-jet cutting is performed on the same belt. This unique feature means that there is no risk of movement between the bone-detection and cutting processes, which ensures a superb level of cutting accuracy based on the bone location. An additional feature is the built-in blade cutter, to optionally cut the tail piece.

The FleXicut is the first tangible output of an ongoing project called APRICOT (Automatic Pinbone Removal In COd and whiTefish) – a collaboration between Marel, Sintef, Norway Seafoods, and Faroe Origin. It is based on detailed research on the raw material and processing techniques, using the very latest of Marel’s technological solutions.

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