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An X4 pipeline inspection unit from Loma Systems is playing a major role in JB Vlees’ meat inspection process.

JB Vlees, based in the Netherlands, specialises in brawn, which comprises meat from pigs’ heads, and delivers its products to suppliers in the meat and snacks industry at home and abroad.

The international trading activities are managed by sister company WB Meat.

The heart of the process is an automatic boning line, which has been modified by the technical department at JB Vlees.

‘The use of this technology means that the company’s production process – from the complete head to the time when the various cuts of meat go into the blast freezer after they have all been accurately sorted, inspected and packaged – takes no longer than 45 minutes,’ said John Bruins, managing director of JB Groothandel in Vlees.

The company complies with all HACCP guidelines and European Union directives.

Meat from a pig’s head is not traditionally viewed as a high-grade ingredient.

Bacteriological problems used to occur in the past and the presence of teeth and bone splinters in the meat was also common.

Since the process has now largely been automated, the time from the moment the pig’s head enters the plant to the moment the boned meat goes into the freezer has been reduced to no more than 45 minutes.

Bruins added: ‘In the old days, when everything was done by hand, things took much longer.

‘The process of boning a head manually is in itself quite quick, but the boned meat often lay on a table for too long in too warm an environment.

‘Our much faster process has significantly improved the bacteriological and hygienic quality of the meat.

‘While the move to an automated line solved all the bacteriological issues, we still needed to find a solution for the teeth and bone fragments,’ he said.

The company decided to test one of Loma Systems’ X-ray machines.

Karel de Rooij, Loma’s regional salesman, said: ‘The sensitivity requirements were very demanding in view of the type of product and the environment is also pretty hostile.

‘Machines that are used in the meat industry have to be able to withstand aggressive cleaning procedures and continue to function properly in very wet conditions,’ he added.

The final solution was an X4 pipeline inspection unit behind a Handtmann meat pump.

‘Only by reducing the mass of meat to this size and by improving the uniformity of the product’s presentation were we able to achieve the required sensitivity of 1.5mm,’ added de Rooij.

The reject system was an additional problem.

Loma’s standard reject valves perform well with ground meat but had difficulty with the pieces of rind in this product.

Bruins continued: ‘We had the choice of buying a fairly expensive system from another supplier without any guarantees or building our own solution.

‘We chose the latter and now have an effective and reliable reject system that diverts the meat to a sorting table when a contaminant is detected.

‘A number of workers at the table inspect the meat by hand and remove any pieces of bone or teeth before passing the product through the X4 again.

‘The [Loma X4] production machine has run faultlessly from day one.

‘Furthermore, we easily achieve the target sensitivity and can even set the machine up so that denser components such as soft bones, which customers often want, are allowed to pass,’ he added.

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