Greenlea Premier Meats

May 2014

Advanced technologies at Greenlea Premier Meats

Greenlea Premier Meats is a family-owned medium-sized meat processor and exporter that specialises in beef and sells over 300 different products to more than 40 countries. Peter Egan, whose son James is now chairman, founded it in 1993 while nephew Tony Egan is its managing director. It has two plants operating, in Hamilton and at Morrinsville, employing 450 people at peak processing, with a company turnover approaching $300 million per annum. Both plants have a annual processing capacity of 100,000 head. Greenlea procures prime steers and heifers, bulls and dairy cows for manufacturing beef production and bobby calves in the winter. 

The Marel StreamLine Boning System was installed in the Hamilton plant in 2009 and at Morrinsville in 2010. It was a first for the meat industry in New Zealand and a world-first at Morrinsville for hot boning. The technology was originally developed in Iceland for the fishing industry. The ergonomically designed system helps reduce the hard manual work found in traditional beef boning rooms, which means less strain injuries for staff members. The computerised tracking system monitors yields, quality, throughput and orders more efficiently on the shop floor and supervisors have the opportunity to provide data-backed feedback to staff. The Marel system has improved yield and increased production. It enables real-time feedback to the trimmers and boners. It greatly reduces the lifting and throwing associated with traditional boning rooms, as gravity is used instead. All products can be traced back to their farm of origin. Information about each carcass is captured at the entrance to the deboning hall.

Primals are distributed to work stations on the StreamLine according to operator availability and deboned and trimmed according to customer specifications, which are displayed on a terminal in front of the operators. The weight of the trim, fat and finished product is captured and compared with the incoming weight.

The heart of the data collection is the Innova intelligent control software. It is user-friendly and requires no IT staff for day-to-day operation. Aaron Craig, plant manager, was one of the senior Greenlea people sent to Iceland to learn about the system and the IT set-up, for making cutting patterns. StreamLine can be configured for a variety of tasks, including deboning, trimming, membrane skinning, tying and sawing.

Marel is based in Iceland and is the leading global provider of advanced equipment, systems and services to the poultry, fish, meat and further processing industries. It employs 3700 people worldwide and has 500 service specialists located in 40 countries, including NZ and Australia. Its manufacturing sites are mostly in Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands and the United States.

The Ibex Freezer System was installed in 2008 after the boning room at the Greenlea Hamilton plant. It consists of a temperature control freezer system (TCS) and an integrated sorting system (ISS). It receives cartons of fresh trimmed meat by conveyor from the boning room and within 40 hours freezes them down to minus 12 degrees or colder. It sorts the different SKUs (up to 60 per day) into single pallet lots of 36 cartons (about one tonne), palletises, wraps the pallets and applies a label. The total system can store up to 13,000 cartons and the sorting mechanism copes with up to 6500 cartons per day. Once palletised, a forklift operator stores the pallet in the cold stores. The total Ibex system requires only one operator per shift, so is virtually a lights-out system. It is fully computerised by scanning individual bar codes on pallets.

Aaron Craig says the benefits of the Ibex freezer system are labour reduction; health and safety benefits as no more lifting, bending, or throwing; power savings through ability to load shed; better inventory control and stock turn around and less carton damage and plant damages.

Ibex is a refrigeration, materials handling, manufacturing and product development company specialising in technology for the food industry, based in East Tamaki in Auckland.