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Title:
APPARATUS FOR AUTOMATIC SEPARATION OF BONE AND MEAT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/187870
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to an apparatus for automatic separation of meat and bone at the spine of a carcass. More specifically, the invention provides a particular knife, designed for use in an apparatus for cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

Inventors:
JENSEN CARSTEN (DK)
PEDERSEN MAX (DK)
JOHANSEN SIMON NYBO (DK)
Application Number:
EP2020/057186
Publication Date:
September 24, 2020
Filing Date:
March 17, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TEKNOLOGISK INST (DK)
International Classes:
A22C17/00; B26D1/00; B26D7/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO1999008538A11999-02-25
WO1999008538A11999-02-25
WO1999059417A11999-11-25
Foreign References:
US20060052043A12006-03-09
EP0971595B12003-02-12
US3849836A1974-11-26
US6659856B22003-12-09
EP0985348A22000-03-15
EP1059037A22000-12-13
EP1116441A22001-07-18
DK173899B12002-02-04
EP1832173A12007-09-12
EP0971595A12000-01-19
EP1741340A22007-01-10
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An industrial knife ( 1) for mounting on a slaughterhouse apparatus for automatic cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part, which knife comprises:

a. a knife-body (2) having a front edge (2a) and a rear-edge (2b), and having a curvature and thickness allowing it to straighten somewhat when it is being pressed against the ribs (R), thus adapting to the shape of the ribs;

b. which knife-body (2) holds one or more spacers (3) arranged perpendicular to the knife-body, and protruding the front edge (2a) of the knife-body (2) ;

c. which knife-body, at the front edge (2a), holds a profile (5) for inserti ng a replaceable knife blade (4) ; and

d. which knife-body (2), in one end, comprises a fastening element (6) for attachment to a slaughterhouse machine (7) .

2. The industrial knife of claim 1, wherein the thickness of knife-body (2) is in the range of from about 3 to 8 mm.

3. The industrial knife of claim 1, wherein the number of spacers (3) is in the range of from 1 to 10.

4. The industrial knife of claim 1, wherein the shape of the spacer (3) is triangular, or slightly trapezoid, or round with an attached sharp tip. 5. A system for automatic separation of loin back ribs from a pork middle part, which system comprises the following elements:

a. the industrial knife ( 1) of claims 1-4, mounted on a slaughterhouse apparatus (7) ;

b. a slaughterhouse apparatus (7), in communication with the processing means (9) ; and

c. a processing means (9) .

6. The system of claim 5, which system further comprises an in-let conveyor, providing the carcass to be processed. 7. A method for automatic separation of loin back ribs from a pork middle part, which method comprises the subsequent steps of:

i. providing the middle piece to be processed, arriving with its head-end first, and conveying the middle piece linearly, in the longitudinal direction of the spinal column, with the rib-side turning upwards; and

ii. clamping and fixing the middle piece at the spinal column and subjecting the middle piece to the knife (1) of the invention, mounted on a slaughterhouse apparatus (7).

8. A method of claim 7, wherein the knife (1) used is spring mounted.

9. A method of claim 7, wherein the slaughterhouse apparatus (7) comprises a conveyor belt for onto which the middle piece to be processed is carried, and which conveyor fixes the spine. 10. A method of claim 7, wherein the knife (1) of the invention is stationary and located beside the conveyor belt.

Description:
APPARATUS FOR AUTOMATIC SEPARATION OF BONE AND MEAT

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to an apparatus for automatic separation of meat and bone at the spine of a carcass. More specifically, the invention provides a particular knife, designed for use in an apparatus for cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

BACKGROUND ART

At abattoirs, the pork carcass is first split onto halves, and each half is then cut into head, fore-end, middle and ham. The middle part is further separated into loin and belly. The fore-end, middle and loin contain a split spinal column, which may be removed by a subsequent de-boning process.

Equipment for separation of meat from bones is known in the art. Thus WO9908538 discloses an apparatus and a method for the removal of the spinal column (and the neck bone) from fore-ends. The apparatus comprises a linear conveyor, and further comprises a knife for separation of the meat from the upper side of the spine. The knife is designed with a plane blade and a fin at the end of the blade.

W09959417 describes a further development of the process disclosed in WO9908538, in which process the riblet is cut free mechanically, while the fore-end is conveyed by the spiked chain.

EP985348 describes an apparatus for longitudinal cutting of middles of half carcasses comprising a conveyor device for advancing the middles along a conveyance path with their rind sides facing downwards.

EP1059037 discloses a device capable of gripping and retaining part of a split carcass by the spinal column and convey that part, while retaining it by the spinal column.

EP1116441 describes a set of two knives for automatic separation of meat and bone in a middle part of a carcass. The knives are resiliently fixed and cut along the spine of the middle part, when it is lead past the knives. One of the knives, cutting along the transverse processes, has a plane portion with a side edge stretching in the direction of travel of the middle part, and from this side edge a curved portion emanates. The other knife has a foot cutting along the heads of the ribs. These knives can be prone to cutting into bones.

DK173899 describes a special wing-shaped knife, used for a so-called undercutting of the ribs, whereby a cut is made along the ribs on the side facing the meat part, substantially parallel with the plane of the middle. The cut that is made at the undercutting connects the two cuts in the rib part and the meat part, respectively.

EP1832173 describes an apparatus for automatic separation of meat and bone at the spine of a part of a carcass, said apparatus comprising knives, and an oblong transport device, having gripping elements for gripping the carcass part at the spine, and transporting the carcass part past the knives, while the spine is held by the gripping elements with the split-side abutting on mainly horizontal abutment faces on the gripping elements.

EP971595 describes an apparatus for removing ribs from belly of an animal flank, which apparatus provides control on the thickness of meat left under the ribs.

EP1741340 describes an apparatus for cutting the meat of a middle so that it is possible to obtain a cut that reaches to the underside of the ribs, preferably without cutting into the ribs.

While the equipment and methods of the prior art allow for performing automatic separation of meat from the back ribs of pork middle parts, the known equipment cuts to the bones very narrowly and clean, leaving behind very little meat, also with a risk of destroying and scrubbing away the membrane or pellicle, located on the bone surface, and of releasing bone splinters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is a growing demand among consumers for loin back ribs that hold more meat than traditional products, especially for making high-prized barbeque-ribs, and different customers demand different thicknesses of the meat layer.

The object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for automatic separation of meat and bone at the spine of a carcass, whereby a uniform layer of meat is left on the backside of the lain back rib.

Accordingly, in its first aspect, the invention provides an industrial knife for mounting on a slaughterhouse apparatus for automatic cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

In another aspect, the invention provides a system for automatic cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

Moreover, the invention provides a method for automatic cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

Other objects of the invention will be apparent to the person skilled in the art from reading the following detailed description and accompanying drawings.

Any combination of two or more of the embodiments described herein is considered within the scope of the present invention. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is further illustrated by reference to the accompanying drawing, in which:

Fig. 1 shows a cross-section view of a pig middle, wherein the letters have the following meanings: B = Belly; D = Dorsal side of the middle; F = Fat/lard; L = Loin; M = Middle; R = Ribs; S = Spine; T = Spinal column side; and roman numerals (I-VI) represent the different cutting lines, frequently applied in the meat industry;

Fig. 2 shows an industrial knife of the invention : a knife body (2); front-end of knife body (2a); back-end of knife body (2b); spacers on the knife body (3); the division point between the active cutting area and the support area (4a); a profile for attachment of the knifes edge (5); a fastening element for attachment to a slaughterhouse machine (6);

Fig. 3 shows an industrial knife of the invention : back-end of knife body (2b); spacers on the knife body (3); a profile for attachment of the knifes edge (5); a fastening element for attachment to a slaughterhouse machine (6); length of the active part of knife/cutting area (x);

Fig. 4 shows the profile of the front-end of the knife body (2); and the location of the knifes edge (5), mounted in the profile for attachment of the knife edge (4), and the distance showing width of knifes edge, protruding the knife body (y); and the location of the spacer (3), and the distance showing the length of spacer protruding the knifes edge (z); and

Fig. 5 shows examples of profiles (i.e. triangular, slightly trapezoid, or round body with a sharp tip) of the spacers of the invention.

DETAILED DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to an apparatus for automatic separation of meat and bone at the spine of a carcass. More specifically, the invention provides a particular industrial knife (1), designed for use in a slaughterhouse, in an apparatus (7) intended for cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

As mentioned above, Fig. 1 shows a cross-section view of a typical pig middle (M). Middles from pig carcases are usually separated into a loin part (L) and a belly part (B) by being given one or more longitudinal cuts (I, II or III) extending at a distance from the spine (S). The separation may be performed by a cut (I, II) going through the ribs (R), or by a cut (III) going through the meat (M). Today, the most common cuttings of middles are as follows:

I longitudinal splitting of the middle into loin (L) and belly (B);

II longitudinal splitting, i.e. cutting of the ribs (R), but without cutting into the meat (M);

III longitudinal cutting of the meat (M), but without cutting into the ribs (R); and

IV sawing off the rib-top for removal of most of the spine (S).

The industrial knife of the invention

In its first aspect, the invention relates to an industrial knife for mounting on a slaughterhouse apparatus for automatic cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

The industrial knife of the invention may be characterised by comprising :

a. a knife-body (2) having a front edge (2a) and a rear-edge (2b), and having a curvature and thickness allowing it to straighten somewhat when it is being pressed against the ribs (R), thus adapting to the shape of the ribs;

b. which knife-body (2) holds one or more spacers (3) arranged perpendicular to the knife-body, and protruding the front edge (2a) of the knife-body (2);

c. which knife-body, at the front edge (2a), holds a profile (5) for inserting a replaceable knife blade (4); and

d. which knife-body (2), in one end, comprises a fastening element (6) for attachment to a slaughterhouse machine (7).

The knife-body

The knife-body (2) of the invention may be made from a stiff or a flexible material, or a combination of a stiff and a flexible material, e.g. having a stiff support area/fastening element (6) for attachment to the slaughterhouse machine, and a flexible active cutting area (see e.g. the distance "x" in Fig. 3).

On the outset, as the ribs of the middle meat piece has a natural curvature, and as substantial variations herein may also occur as a result of the diverse sizes and breeds of the animals, the shape of the knife-body of the invention should fit the curvature of the carcass.

In one embodiment, the knife-body of the invention is designed to fit the curvature of the ribs, calculated based on a reasonable number of animals. It is currently contemplated that a number of 2-300 constitute a reasonable number of animals, representative of the biological variation.

In another embodiment, the blade-body (2) should be flexible and have a curvature and a thickness allowing it to straighten or bend somewhat when it is being pressed against the ribs, thus adapting to the shape of the ribs. The thickness of the knife body of the invention should be sufficient to provide a durable tool and may depend on the exact products to be processed. The thickness of the knife body also should have a thickness allowing it to retain its curved shape when in use.

It is currently believed that a thickness in the range of from about 3 to 8 mm will be enough, e.g. of from about 3 to 6 mm.

When mounted in a conventional slaughterhouse machine (7), the knife (1) of the invention preferably is spring loaded during operation, allowing the curvature of the knife to adjust to the ribs during cutting.

The length of the knifes edge (4) should fit the size of meat/rib to be separated. Generally, the length of the knife, expressed by the distance x (cf. Fig. 3), should be in the range of from 5 to 15 cm, e.g. of from 5 to 10 cm.

Usually, two products are in demand : Wide loin back ribs, as represented by the part of the middle located between cut V and cut II on Fig. 1; and Narrow loin back ribs, as represented by the part of the middle located between cut V and cut I on Fig. 1.

For the cutting of wide loin back ribs, the active cutting area (x) should be in the range of from about 5-10 cm, e.g. 7-8 cm.

For the cutting of narrow loin back ribs, the active cutting area (x) should be in the range of from about 3-7 cm, e.g. 5-6 cm.

At abattoirs, the pork carcass is first split onto halves, and each of these halves are usually treated long their own processing lines. This means that two slaughter lines are usually in play, a right-side line and a left-side line. This also, off course, places special demands on the equipment used, and necessitates the use of right-side and left-side equipment, that are essentially mirror images of each other.

Therefore, in one embodiment, the industrial knife (1) of the invention represents a right-side knife, adapted to cut and remove of loin back ribs from a right-side pork middle.

In another embodiment, the industrial knife (1) of the invention represents a left-side knife, adapted to cut and remove of loin back ribs from a left-side pork middle.

The knifes edge

To accommodate wear and tear, a replaceable knifes edge (4) is used, and the knife edge (4) can be made of any material, conventionally used in the industry.

The knifes edge (4) for of the invention should have a thickness corresponding to the material (meat) to be cut. Is it currently believed that a thickness in the range of from about 1 to about 6 mm is appropriate, e.g. of from about 2 to about 5 mm, or of from about 3 to about 4 mm, depending on the exact nature of the knifes edge.

For performing its function, the knifes edge (4) off course must protrude the knife body (2) in order to be able to cut the meat. It is currently believed that the knifes edge (4) must protrude the knife body (2) with a part (represented by the distance y in Fig. 4) corresponding to about 1 to about 10 mm, e.g. of from about 2 to about 8 mm, or from about 3 to about 6 mm.

The knife-body (2) of the invention shall hold one or more spacers (3), arranged perpendicular to the knife-body, and protruding the front edge (2a) of the knife-body (2).

The spacers (3) guide the knife of the invention and facilitates, that the knife slides and cuts the meat in the desired distance from the ribs, that the knife keeps a uniform, predetermined, distance from the ribs, and that the knifes edge does not hit the ribs.

The spacer (3) shall protrude the front edge (2a) of the knifes-body (2) in order to guide the blade into the correct position, when the knife-body (2), fitted to the slaughter house machine used according to the invention, approaches the meat piece (M), and secure that the knifes edge (3) does not catch the rib bone (R).

The spacer (3) of the invention should protrude the knifes edge (4) by about 5 to 15 mm. In one embodiment, the distance (z) is in the range of from about 5 to about 10 mm, e.g. of from 5 to 7 mm.

Depending on the exact size of the knife-body, a number of spacers (3) in the range of from 1 to 10 may be applicable. It is currently contemplated that a number of from 3 to 7 spacers may be applicable for most applications.

As different customers may require product of different styles, the spacers (3) shall come in different thicknesses. It is currently contemplated that spacers (3) of a thickness in the range of from 1 to 10 mm will satisfy most customers needs. In one embodiment, the spacers (3) shall be of a thickness in the range of from 3 to 7 mm, e.g. of from 4-6 mm.

The shape of the spacer is not trivial, as experiments have shown that the profile of the spacer (3) must end in a pointed/sharp/acute angle. The shape of the spacer (3) could be triangular, or slightly trapezoid, or it could be round with an attached sharp tip, e.g. as shown in Fig. 5.

In one embodiment, the profile of the spacer (3) of the invention is triangular.

The spacer (3) may be applied to the knife by way of 3D printing or welding.

Slaughterhouse machinery

The slaughterhouse apparatus (7), onto which the industrial knife (1) of the invention shall be mounted, may be any existing/commercially available machinery, e.g. the machines described in EP985348, DK173899 or EP1832173. The system of the invention

In another aspect, the invention relates to a system for cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

The system of the invention may be characterised by comprising the following elements:

a. the industrial knife (1) of the invention, mounted on a slaughterhouse apparatus (7);

b. a slaughterhouse apparatus (7), in communication with the processing means

(9); and

c. a processing means (9).

The system of the invention may further comprise an in-let conveyor, providing the carcass to be processed.

The method of the invention

In a further aspect, the invention provides a method for cutting and removal of loin back ribs from a pork middle part.

The method of the invention may be characterised by comprising the

subsequent steps of:

i. providing the middle piece to be processed, arriving with its head-end first, and conveying the middle piece linearly, in the longitudinal direction of the spinal column, with the rib-side turning upwards; and

ii. clamping and fixing the middle piece at the spinal column and subjecting the middle piece to the knife (1) of the invention, mounted on a slaughterhouse apparatus (7).

The knife (1) used according to the method of the invention preferably is spring mounted.

In one embodiment, the slaughterhouse apparatus (7) comprises a conveyor belt onto which the middle piece to be processed is carried, and which conveyor fixes the spine.

In another embodiment, the knife (1) of the invention is stationary and located beside the conveyor belt.

In further embodiments, the conveyor is of a construction known from, and described in e.g. WO9908538 and EP1059037.

Finally, the speed of the conveyor, the position of the knife (1), lateral and/or elevated position, may be guided by use of a processing means (9).

Usually, two products are in demand : Wide loin back ribs are represented by the part of the middle located between cut V and cut II on Fig. 1; and narrow loin back ribs are represented by the part of the middle located between cut V and cut I on Fig. 1.

In one embodiment, the method of the invention is applied to the cutting of wide loin back ribs. In one embodiment, the method of the invention is applied to the cutting of narrow loin back ribs.

List of reference signs

In the figures, identical structures, elements or parts that appear in more than one figure are generally labelled with the same numeral in all the figures in which they appear.

1. The industrial knife of the invention

2. Knife body

2a. Front edge/leading edge of knife

2b. Rear edge/trailing edge of knife

3. Spacer on knife body

4. Knifes edge

4a. Division point between the active cutting area (x) and the support area (6)

5. Profile for attachment of, and retaining, the knife edge

6. Support area/fastening element for attachment to the slaughterhouse machine

7. Slaughterhouse machine

8. Rib bones

9. Processing means/controller/CPU

x. Distance showing the active part of knife/cutting area

y. Distance showing width of knifes edge, protruding the knife body

z. Distance showing the length of spacer protruding the knifes edge

B = Belly;

D = Dorsal side of the middle;

F = Fat/lard;

L = Loin;

M = Middle;

R = Ribs;

S = Spine;

T = Spinal column side;

(I-VI) represent different cutting lines