X-ray tech boosts profits

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Email Bob Garnant

Meat processing technology is on the verge of moving into a data rich future which will enable an improved true and accurate value system.

Murdoch University Associate Professor Graham Gardner and his team at the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences have developed x-ray technology with commercial intent to scan the carcases of cattle, sheep and pigs, utilising accurate measurements for improved quality.

Dr Gardner said the dual x-ray absorptiometer (DEXA) is already at work at one of Australia’s largest meat processing plants, JBS in Bordertown, South Australia, scanning 30 carcases of sheep a minute.

“DEXA, a large tubular constructed scanner, can differentiate meat from fat and bone,” he said.

Built by New Zealand’s SCOTT Technology under guidelines from Murdoch, Dr Gardner will be monitoring the calibrations which will feed accurate data back to industry.

He said interest in the technology had been decisive, attracting an $11.5 million project funding initiative from the Federal Government and various industry players, including Meat & Livestock Australia, which will be used at Murdoch to implement the technology across the meat supply industry.

“We expect DEXA, at a cost of $1.5 million installed per processor, could contribute to an overall total $100 million in efficiency savings to Australia’s $12 billion meat supply industry,” Dr Gardner said.

“This measurement technology will also predict eating quality; ensuring retailers can provide greater consistency of quality to consumers.

“Processors will benefit from production improvements, with accurate data ensuring maximum processing efficiency and less waste.”

“A fully working system could lead to improved pricing mechanisms for lean meat yield.”

Dr Gardiner said JBS is at least 12 months away from providing valuable feedback to its clients.

“A fully working system will extract maximum value for producers, processors, retailers and consumers and lead to lower commercial risk, improved meat quality and increased profits,” he said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails