When some processors see a sub-primal on the production line they consider the business of sorting, packaging, and shipping their finished products. One Las Vegas meat processor we interviewed sees things differently. They think about an A5 Wagyu steak hitting the pan just a few miles away in a busy restaurant kitchen. They think about the effort it takes to feed hundreds of hungry patrons and repeatedly produce the same high-quality meal. Mostly, they think about the value of consistency.
“It’s controlled chaos in those in those kitchens, “the meat processor’s general manager said. “If you have a three-inch fillet and a two-inch fillet, it can throw everything off. I look at meat cutting, and I just see the cooking times.”
Eight years ago, the processor was hand-cutting all its products. They then began experimenting with a Marel portioning machine. While the Marel allowed them to take on larger customers they realized it wasn’t the best machine on the market. It lacked the accuracy and technology he desired to cut perfect portions.
That led the company to purchase a Marelec Portio 3-300 and a grader system from Ross Industries.
The Marelec Portio uses state-of-the-art technology to create high-precision portions from whole primals or fish, with the unique ability to cut portions to both a fixed weight and thickness specification. It combines the latest laser vision and camera technology with a highly intelligent cutting algorithm to calculate the exact location of each cut, ensuring equal, fixed weights and optimal product yield.
In addition to the Portio’s ability to cut steaks to both a weight and thickness specifications, the machine also offers a precise level of remote control through its accompanying MATRIX P production software.
MATRIX allows real-time monitoring and remote control of the Portio through a PC, giving production managers on-demand administration over their operations from virtually anywhere. MATRIX P collects all data gathered by the Portio during cutting (weight of the primal, weight of each cut, thickness of the cut, etc.) and then visually represents it in an interface for the production manager to monitor. In addition, the software uses SQL-based data collection which allows for long-term trending and event logging.
“I have full control of what they’re [the production floor] doing,” the GM said. “I can change the program. I can watch the average weight, and I know they’re cutting eights and sixes; if I feel like they’re cutting too heavy, I can literally go into the program, change the settings or the density, and adjust weights.”
The acquisition of the Portio and grading system has changed how the company operates. They have taken on several new larger customers, increasing their daily production volume by magnitudes. Workers who previously were cutters are now trimmers, guaranteeing them job security.
“I actually hired more people because it takes five or six people just to keep up with that machine if you run it right,” he said.
It all goes back to consistency. Investment in the Portio and grader system with MATRIX allows a processor to exert the most control over their production and will pay them back in better yield and in turn, higher profits. The GM views the supreme consistency found in the Portio as his most significant competitive edge.
“If you can give them [a restaurant kitchen] a protein and a spec and a height where they know that steak is going to go down in that pan and it’s the same size; you’re going to have the same cooking time. It’s going to have the same plate presentation. That’s something that we can give them that nobody else can. And we’re able to do that with the Marelec technology,” he said.