Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
A METHOD AND A SYSTEM FOR PROCESSING FISH FILLETS WHEN THE FISH FILLETS ARE IN AN UNDERCOOLED STATE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/093542
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to a method and a system for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, the method including: obtaining X-ray data of the fish fillets, processing the obtained X-ray data where the processing includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues, wherein the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets.

Inventors:
HALLVARDSSON, Kristjan (Budavad 4, 110 Reykjavik, 110, IS)
Application Number:
EP2016/079678
Publication Date:
June 08, 2017
Filing Date:
December 02, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MAREL ICELAND EHF. (Austurhraun 9, 210 Gardabaer, 210, IS)
International Classes:
A22C25/16; A22B5/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2002043502A22002-06-06
WO2013132068A12013-09-12
WO2013132068A12013-09-12
Foreign References:
EP1830656A12007-09-12
GB2405081A2005-02-23
EP1830656A12007-09-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INSPICOS P/S (Kogle Allé 2, 2970 Hørsholm, 2970, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for processing fish fillets (301) conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, the method comprising:

- obtaining (101) X-ray data of the fish fillets,

- processing (102) the obtained X-ray data where the processing includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues,

wherein the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter (103) in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein processing the obtained X-ray data further comprises determining surface height profiles (302) for the fish fillets and where the surface height profiles are utilized as further operation data in operating the at least one high pressure water jet.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the step of operating the at least one high pressure water jet comprises moving the at least one high pressure water jet during cutting such that it follows the surface height profiles of the fish fillets where the at least one high pressure water jet and is positioned at a fixed height above the fish fillets.

4. The method according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the step of operating the high pressure water jet comprises adapting the advancing speed of the at least one high pressure water jet to the thickness of the fish fillets.

5. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the undercooled state is between -1.5°C-0°C.

6. A system for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, the system comprising:

an X-ray apparatus (201, 801) for obtaining X-ray data (841) of the fish fillets, a processing means (202, 842) for processing the obtained X-ray data where the processing includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues,

- at least one high pressure water jet (204, 804), and

- a control unit (203, 842) for operating the at least one high pressure water jet, wherein the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter by the control unit in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets.

7. The system according to claim 6, wherein the conveyor means comprises a first conveyor and at least one second conveyor arranged end-to-end such that at least one slit (510, 610) is formed there between, and where the at least one high pressure water jet is positioned above the slit such that the cutting plane extends through the at least one slit.

8. The system according to claim 6, wherein the conveyor means comprises a single or solid conveyor belt where via at least one bypass loop at least one slit is defined and where the at least one high pressure water jet is/are positioned directly above the at least one slit at all times.

9. The system according to claim 8, where each of the at least one slit is formed by means of arranging two side by side and parallel rollers (630, 632) positioned below the solid conveyor belt such that their longitudinal axis is perpendicular to the conveyor direction, and where at least one further roller (631) is positioned between and below the side by side and parallel rollers, whereby the solid conveyor belt is extended around the at least three rollers such that a U-shaped like loop is formed, where the opening of the U-shaped like loop defines the slit.

10. The system according to claim 9, wherein the rollers and the at least one high pressure water jet are mounted to a moving mechanism operated by the control unit operable to move back and forth parallel to the conveying direction during cutting in response to the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues.

11. The system according to any of the claims 6 to 10, wherein the at least one high pressure water jet is attached to a moving means and is configured to be moved in a two dimensional x-y plane parallel to a support surface of the fish fillets, or in a three x-y-z plane where z direction is perpendicular to the x-y plane.

Description:
A METHOD AND A SYSTEM FOR PROCESSING FISH FILLETS WHEN THE FISH FILLETS ARE IN AN UNDERCOOLED STATE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method and a system for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

EP 1830656 discloses a method for bone removal and trimming of fish fillets when it is in an under-cooled using high pressure water jet for cutting. A digital imaging of the fish fillets is performed and the image is compared with plurality of pre-stored images for determining cutting patterns. This selected cutting pattern is used for operating the at least one high pressure water jet for removing at least a part of bones or undesired tissue from the fish fillet.

This however requires a large amount of reference images/cutting-patters since the size and shape of the fish fillets can vary greatly. This is obviously a very time demanding and tedious process, where obviously the less reference images there are the less accurate will the processing be.

Also, identical fish fillets of e.g. the same type of fish species can have up to some extent different bone structures. As an example, the pin bone location and the angular position of the fish fillet can be different for the exact geometrical size of fish fillet of the same fish species. Also, to ensure that no pin bones are present in the processed fish fillets the processing is most likely operated such the pin bone "strip" is sufficiently wide. This can mean that 15mm excess cut must be performed to ensure no remaining pin bones in the processed fish fillets.

Moreover, the same applies where undesired tissues are to be cut away. In some fish fillets there may be such undesired tissues present and in other fish fillets there may not be such undesired tissues, or maybe much less of it. Thus, to ensure that no undesired tissues are present the processing must be such that the cut ensures that no undesired tissues are left. Thus, for fish fillets that have very little of such undesired tissues a lot of meat is being cut and categorized as undesired tissue. Based on the above, this will result in poor yield during the processing where valuable meat is removed with the pin bones and or the undesired tissues.

The inventor of the present invention has appreciated that there is thus a need for an improved way of processing fish fillets and has in consequence devised the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It would be advantageous to achieve an improved and simplified way of processing fish fillets where the yield of the processing may be highly improve.

In general, the invention preferably seeks to mitigate, alleviate or eliminate one or more of the above mentioned disadvantages singly or in any combination. In particular, it may be seen as an object of the present invention to provide a method and an apparatus for processing fish that solves the above mentioned problems, or other problems, of the prior art. To better address one or more of these concerns, in a first aspect of the invention a method is provided for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, the method comprising:

- obtaining X-ray data of the fish fillets,

- processing the obtained X-ray data where the processing includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues,

wherein the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets.

Accordingly, an improved method for processing fish is provided where the yield may be greatly enhanced since now the cutting is performed based on the X-ray data for each individual fish fillet, i.e. the processing is dynamically adapted to each individual fish fillet where e.g. fish fillets of the same fish species having the exact same shape may be different if the pin-bone location is somewhat different or e.g. fish one of the fish fillets has undesired tissue while the other fish fillet does not have an undesired tissue or much less of it.

Also, there is no need to create reference cutting patterns or reference images for the fish fillets, which is obviously extremely time demanding because the obtained X-ray data for each individual fish fillet is utilized are the operation parameters by the control unit for operating the at least one high pressure water jet. The fish fillets may as an example be any type of fish species, such as, but not limited to, cod, salmon, Alaska Pollock, or any type of a white fish.

The fish fillets may be with their skins one or without the skins, where the skins may be removed with an appropriate skin removing device well known to a person skilled in the art.

The term undercooled state may be understood as being approximately between - 1.5°C-0°C which may be achieved by any type of equipment well known to a person skilled in the art where the fish fillet are cooled down to this temperature range where the fish fillets are stiffer than during conventional processing where this stiffness enables processing without the fillets loosing quality because of gapping in the flesh. Moreover, this undercooled state may further allow removing the pin bones with more efficiency and accuracy and also smoother cuts.

In one embodiment, the step of processing the obtained X-ray data further comprises determining surface height profiles for the fish fillets and where the surface height profiles are utilized as further operation data in operating the at least one high pressure water jet. The surface height profile may indicate the complete surface height profile based on the obtained X-ray data, e.g. based in the X-ray data.

In an embodiment, the step of operating the at least one high pressure water jet comprises moving the at least one high pressure water jet during cutting such that it follows the surface height profiles of the fish fillets where the at least one high pressure water jet and is positioned at a fixed height above the fish fillets. This fixed height may be selected as the most optimal operation height, preferably as close as possible above the fish fillet, such that the cut, both at the side facing the at least one high pressure water jet and also at the distal side of the at least one high pressure water jet (i.e. the side resting on a support surface), is as smooth as possible. Also, selecting this operation height is of course based on that the cut reaches through the fish fillet at all times.

Also, by maintaining the at least one high pressure water jet at the fixed height above the fish fillets, preferably as close as possible to the fish fillets, the width of the water beam is narrow and thus the cut will be more precise and have a better appearance.

In one embodiment, the step of operating the high pressure water jet comprises adapting the advancing speed of the at least one high pressure water jet to the thickness of the fish fillets. Accordingly, the thinner the area of the fish fillets is the faster may the advancing speed be, i.e. the movement of the at least one high pressure water jet, and vice versa, the thicker the fish fillets the slower is the advancing speed. Thus, when e.g. cutting at the tail part the at least one high pressure water jet may be moved faster compared to if the loin is being cut.

It should be noted that the speed and/or height may be variable and adapted to e.g. the part that is being cut. As an example, if the processed image shows that there is a tissue/bones etc. that is more difficult to cut than the fish meet, then the advancing speed of the at least one high pressure water jet and/or the height is adjusted accordingly.

In one embodiment, the at least one high pressure water jet is attached to a moving means and is configured to be moved in a two dimensional x-y plane parallel to a support surface of the fish fillets, or in a three x-y-z plane where z direction is perpendicular to the x-y plane. As an example, the at least one high pressure water jet may be slideable mounted to at least one guide means, e.g. a rail guide, that may be operated by the control unit that, based on the obtained image date, and moves the high pressure water along one or two dimensions, e.g. across and/or along the fish fillet.

The at least one high pressure water jet may also be attached to means for adjusting the tilting angle of the water jet and thus it may be utilized to adjust the angle of the cut. This means may as an example comprise a robotic or robotic-like system that moves it in at least one degree of freedom, where additionally a tilting movement may be provided to adjust the angle of the cut so that it is not necessarily perpendicular to a carrying surface on which the fish fillets are resting.

The moving means may also be configured to maintain the at least one high pressure water jet at fixed height above the fish fillets as already discussed.

In a second aspect of the invention, a system is provided for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, the system comprising:

an X-ray apparatus for obtaining X-ray data of the fish fillets,

- a processing means for processing the obtained X-ray data where the processing

includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues,

- at least one high pressure water jet, and

a control unit for operating the at least one high pressure water jet, wherein the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter by the control unit in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets.

In one embodiment, the conveyor means comprises a first conveyor and at least one second conveyor arranged in an end-to-end arrangement such that at least one slit is formed there between, and where the at least one high pressure water jet is positioned above the slit such that the cutting plane extends through the at least one slit. Accordingly, there may be e.g. two or more high pressure water jets provided arranged upstream/downstream in relation to each other where e.g. one high pressure water jet is associated to a single slit, i.e. two slits are provide if there are two high pressure water jets etc. Also, there may be more than two high pressure water jets associated to one and the same slit and that may be operating

simultaneously.

In one embodiment, two or more high pressure water jets may be provided, one arranged in upstream direction and one (or more) arranged in downstream direction, where two or more slits may be provided such that the cutting planes of the two (or more) high pressure water jets extends through the opening of the slits.

In another embodiment, the conveyor means may e.g. comprise a steel belt and the like to be able to tolerate the impact from the at least one high pressure water jet. Referring to the embodiment above, the two or more high pressure water jets arranged

upstream/downstream in relation to each other may when using such steel belt.

The conveyor means may also comprise a single or solid thin conveyor belt where via at least one bypass loop at least slit is/are defined and where the at least one high pressure water jet is/are positioned directly above the at least one slit such that the cutting plane passes through the at least one slit at all times. This is to prevent the conveyor belt from being cut. Such a bypass loop may be formed by e.g. having two sides by side and parallel rollers positioned below the conveyor belt and arranged perpendicular to the conveyor direction, and at least one roller positioned between and below the two rollers, whereby the conveyor belt is extended around the at least three rollers such that a U-shaped like loop is formed, where the opening of the U-shaped like loop defines the slit. Moreover, these three (or more) rollers, which may be considered as being idle rollers, may be mounted to a moving mechanism that may be operable to move them back and forth parallel to the conveying direction, during cutting where the cutting plane of the at least one high pressure water jet (or any other type of cutting means) passes through the slit at all times.

In one embodiment, the rollers and the at least one high pressure water jet are mounted to a moving mechanism operated by the control unit operable to move back and forth parallel to the conveying direction during cutting in response to the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues.

In general the various aspects of the invention may be combined and coupled in any way possible within the scope of the invention. These and other aspects, features and/or advantages of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will be described, by way of example only, with reference to the drawings, in which

figure 1 shows a flowchart of one embodiment of a method according to the present invention for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state,

figure 2 shows one embodiment of a system according to the present invention, figure 3 and 4 show one embodiment of system according to the present invention where the processed X-ray data discussed in relation to figures 1 and 2 are used as input in operating the at least one high pressure water jet,

figure 5 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a system according to the present invention for automatically processing a fish fillet,

figure 6a,b shows an embodiment of a conveyor system shown in figure 5, figure 7 shows a zoomed up view of figure 6a,b, and

figure 8 shows schematic view of one embodiment of a system according to the present invention. DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Figure 1 shows a flowchart of one embodiment of a method according to the present invention for processing fish fillets conveyed by a conveyor means where the fish fillets are in an undercooled state, which may be understood as approximately between -1.5°C-0°C. The fish fillets may as an example be any type of fish species, such as, but not limited to, cod, salmon, Alaska Pollock.

In step (SI) 101, X-ray data of the fish fillets is obtained where the obtained X-ray data include X-ray data.

In step (S2) 102, the obtained X-ray data is processed where the processing includes determining pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues, e.g. fat tissues and the like that may e.g. not have good appearance.

In step (S3) 102, the determined pin bones areas in the fish fillets and/or locations of undesired tissues is used as an operation parameter in automatically cutting around the pin bones areas and/or around the locations of the undesired tissues using at least one high pressure water jet for the individual fish fillets, i.e. for a given fish fillet the associated X-ray image for this particular fillet is processed and used to process this particular fish fillet. This may also be referred to as a dynamically processing the fish fillet.

In one embodiment, the step of processing in step (S2) 102 the obtained X-ray data further comprises determining surface height profiles for the fish fillets and where the surface height profiles are utilized as further operation data in operating the at least one high pressure water jet. This could as an example include moving the at least one high pressure water jet during cutting such that it follows the surface height profile of the fish fillet and is positioned at a fixed height above the fish fillets, and/or adapting the advancing speed of the high water jet to the thickness of the fish fillets. This will be discussed in more details in relation to figures 3 and 4.

It should be noted that two or more high pressure water jets may be positioned

upstream/downstream in relation to each other where e.g. one or more cut around the pin bones areas whereas one or more other high pressure water jets cut around undesired tissues.

After processing the fish fillets the cuts may be removed, either automatically or manually by an operator.

Figure 2 shows one embodiment of a system 200 according to the present invention for automatically processing fish fillets when the fish fillets are in a frozen state. The system comprises an X-ray apparatus (X) 201, processing means (P) 202, a control unit (C_U) 203 and at least one high pressure water jet (W_J) 204.

The X-ray data are processed to determine the exact location of the pin bones and/or the locations of undesired tissues such as fat, and this processed data is used as operation data for operation the at least one high pressure water jet.

The X-ray data may further be processed for obtaining surface height profile of the fish fillets for operating the at least one high pressure water jet, as will be discussed in more details in relation to figures 3 and 4.

Figure 3 shown one embodiment of system according to the present invention where the processed X-ray data discussed in relation to figures 1 and 2 are used as input data in operating the at least one high pressure water jet 304 when cutting around the pin bone areas and/or around the location of the undesired tissues.

In the embodiment shown here, a surface height profile 302 of the fish fillet 301 is determined and used as input data for the control unit in figure 2 to operate the at least one high pressure water j et 304.

The surface height profile 302 may among other things indicate how the thickness of a given fish fillet 301 where a cut is to be performed varies. This surface height profile may be utilized by the control unit in figure 2 to operate the high pressure water jet 304 by means of e.g. maintaining the high pressure water jet at fixed optimal height d from the fish fillet such that the cut has the best appearance such that the cut on both sides of the fish fillet, i.e. facing the high pressure water jet 304 and at the opposite side, is as smooth as possible. This may be achieved if the at least one high pressure water jet 304 is as close as possible to the fish fillet 301.

In one embodiment the speed of the high pressure water jet 304 may be maintained constant during cutting, where the speed may be selected such that the cut extends through the fish fillet 301 at all times.

In the embodiment shown here, the surface height profile 302 may also be used as input in adjusting the speed Vi of the high pressure water jet 304 such that at the thickest part of the fish fillet 301 the speed VI may be lowest to obtain a cut through the fish fillet 301. As the thickness decreases the speed of the high pressure water jet may be increased, or as shown in this example, the thickness successively increases and thus the speeds V2-V5 of the high pressure water jet 304 successively decrease as shown in the speed profile 305. It should be noted that the speed and/or height of the high pressure water jet may be variable and adapted to e.g. the part that is being cut. As an example, if the processed image shows that there a tissue/bones etc. that is more difficult to cut than the fish meat, then the speed of the high pressure water jet and/or the height may be adjusted accordingly.

The high pressure water jet 304 may be slideable attached to guiding means, rails and the like (not shown), that allows e.g. the high pressure water jet to move e.g. along x-axis and z- axis. An additional dimension may obviously be included, i.e. the y-direction.

The high pressure water jet 304 may also be operated by a robotic arm (not shown) based on the surface height profile 302 where two or more degrees of freedom may be achieved, e.g. including tilting the high pressure water jet 304.

Figure 4 depicts another scenario of cutting the fish fillet 301 in figure 3 where in this embodiment the high pressure water cutter 304 is positioned at a fixed height z from a supporting surface of a conveyor means, and may move at least in a one dimensional direction x where the height z is fixed. The height is selected such that it cuts through the fish fillet 301 at all times. The speed of the high pressure water jet may be maintained constant, or it may be varied, e.g. depending on what is being cut, e.g. bones, tissues etc. that may be more difficult to cut through than e.g. the fish meat.

The advantage of maintaining the high pressure water jet at fixed height above the fish fillets as shown in figure 3 is that the width of the water beam is very narrow and thus the cut has a better appearance. As shown in figure 4, the width of the water beam 401 where the height above this fish fillet is much is larger compared to the width 402 where the distance is shortest, but this can be visible in the cut.

However, the embodiment shown here may be considered simple compared to the one shown in figure 3 since figure 4 illustrates one dimensional movement.

Figure 5 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a system 500 according to the present invention for automatically processing a fish fillet 501 when it is in an undercooled state as it is being conveyed in a conveying direction indicated by arrow 506.

The fish fillet 501 is lying on a conveyor means, which may in one embodiment comprise a first conveyor comprising a first conveyor belt 508 and a second conveyor comprising a second conveyor belt 509, where the slit 510 shown may be defined by placing the first and the second conveyors 508, 509 end-to-end such that the cutting plane of the at least one high pressure water jet passes through the slit at all times during cutting. Although not shown here, there may be more than on slit (no shown here) where a single high pressure water jet may be associated to a single slit, e.g. two slits may be provided where one high pressure water jet e.g. cuts around the pint bone area while the other one cuts around the undesired tissues, or e.g. two high pressure water jets may be assigned to cut around the pin bone area.

Figure 6a-b shows another embodiment of the system as shown in figure 5 where the slit 510 is formed using a single solid thin conveyor belt 608, 609 via a bypass loop, e.g. similar as shown in WO2013132068 in e.g. figures 1-19 and p. 4 1. 13-p. 28 1. 14, hereby incorporated by reference. As shown here, the bypass loop is formed by having two side by side and parallel rollers 630, 632 positioned below the conveyor belt and arranged perpendicular to the conveyor direction indicated by the arrow. At least one roller 631 (may also e.g. be two or more) is positioned between and below the two rollers 630, 632, where the single conveyor belt 608, 609 is extended around the at least three (or more) rollers 630-632 such that a U- shaped like loop is formed where the slit may be considered as being the opening of the U. These rollers may all be simple idle rollers.

The rollers 630-632 and the high pressure water jet 604 may be mounted to a frame structure such that the cutting plane always intersects with the slit, similar as shown in WO2013132068 in e.g. figure 1 and 26 hereby incorporated by reference, for allowing the rollers and the high pressure water jet to move parallel to the conveyor in case e.g. incline cuts are needed.

It should be noted that more than one slit may be formed in this way (not shown here), e.g. two or more slits may be provided downstream/upstream in relation to each other where a single high pressure water jet may be associated to a single slit, such that the cutting plane extends through the slit at all times.

Figure 7 is a zoomed up from the three rollers shown in figure 6.

Figure 8 shows one embodiment of a system 800 according to the present invention comprising an X-ray apparatus 801 for obtaining X-ray data 841 of fish fillet 804 that is being conveyed by a conveyor in a conveying direction as indicated by the arrow 850. The conveyor shown here comprises a conveyor belt 808 that may comprise a plurality of spikes (not shown). The X-ray data is processed by a processor comprised in a computer system 842 that may also be acting as a control unit and where the processed X-ray data indicating the pin bone location and the position of undesired tissues used as operation data 843 in operating the high pressure water jet 804.

Different embodiments of e.g. the cutting means, the imaging means etc. have already been discussed in the previous figures.

Also shown here is the slit formed via two side by side arranged rollers 830, 832 and a third roller 831 positioned there below, preferably such that the impact from the water beam intersects with the roller 831.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary and not restrictive; the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage.