Innovative automation

Innovative automation solution gives NZ meat processor a winning edge

Innovative automation solution gives NZ meat processor a winning edge

When Greenlea Premier Meats recently upgraded sections of its plant by installing a series of industrial controllers, its aim was to improve efficiency and increase productivity. As one of New Zealand’s largest meat processing companies, the Waikato-based entity needed a new automation system to cope with its workload and future innovation.

Omron, an Australian-based global leader in automation with representation in New Zealand, was called in to help, and played a key role in setting up the new system that procures more than 200,000 prime steers, heifers, manufacturing bulls and cows each year, as well as bobby calves since 2013.

Processing 52 weeks of the year at two locations in Hamilton and Morrinsville, Greenlea enjoys an international reputation for reliable service and consistently high-quality products not only in manufacturing beef but also prime beef table cuts. It aims to be the processor of choice for farmers, and the employer of choice for workers.

Greenlea’s innovative plants are recognised throughout the world for efficient processes that produce high-quality export beef products, using the latest European boning room technology and locally-developed freezing technology. The company’s cutting-edge innovation and ambitious growth plans needed to be accommodated by Omron’s plans.

One conveyor that was installed to move specific hand-cut product for specialised orders uses an Omron CJ2 PLC to control an Omron MX2 variable speed drive. This system also uses paddle guidance operations to accurately start and stop the conveyor.

In the boning room, conveyor systems and boning chains are driven by Omron CJ1 and RX, RV and MX drives. CJ1 processors are used for the conveyors and packing infeeds that require stop, start and lift operations.

Finally, the processed meat is pushed to the packing room which has carton erectors and carton handlers again controlled by Omron PLC.

Greenlea employs a team of highly skilled slaughter and boning staff, many with long service and strong family representation. For their dedicated packaging teams, product presentation and consistent quality are a key focus for their meat products. That’s why traceability through the Marel boning, weight and traceability system – which provides supervisors information to feed back to trimmers and boners on their quality of work – is so important in the new system.

Roger Venk, business development manager for Omron NZ says the job was complex. “One of the biggest challenges was developing a system that could cope with the harsh conditions within a busy meat processing plant,” he says. “Fortunately, when it comes to performance, quality control and reliability, Omron is a global leader. From concept development through to the factory floor, we could confidently provide reliability alongside our engineering support.

“Omron has provided the automation package for the entire slaughter process. This process starts from the refrigeration plant to the slaughter floor, boning chains and finally through to the cutting and packaging line.”

Venk says Omron was chosen due to service, quality and price. Standardising has saved Greenlea in software changes, training and componentry replacement, he says.

With Omron offering engineering back up through local contractors Lochore Electrical, Greenlea has been able to enjoy cost effective high end automation. Now both sites have a fully integrated Omron refrigeration plant, slaughter chains, boning chains and packaging equipment, greatly aiding in the production quality of product…90% of which is exported to 40 countries around the world.

Specialising in industrial automation equipment including electronic components, Omron has more than 36,000 employees in 35 countries throughout the world. Based in Sydney, Omron Oceania offers more than 200,000 product lines including sensors, switches, relays, machine safeguarding equipment and factory automation systems.