Magazine article USA TODAY

Finding Poultry Defects before Processing. (Screening)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Finding Poultry Defects before Processing. (Screening)

Article excerpt

Researchers believe they are on the edge of a breakthrough, but they don't want to count their chickens before they're processed. At Gold Kist's poultry processing plant in Carrollton, Ga., a machine vision system developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Atlanta, is undergoing field testing. If it results in the success researchers expect, it could open the door for automating many visual-inspection tasks in the industry.

The technology is called a systemic screener. Installed near the front end of the chicken-processing line, cameras look for defects such as improperly bled birds and those afflicted by systemic diseases, like septicemia and toxemia. Unique software and algorithms provide the intelligence for translating visual data from the system's cameras into the appropriate mechanical commands for dispensation of each chicken. Those that pass the screening proceed to the next step, while unfit chickens are quickly and automatically removed from the processing line.

"It's a vision-based, closed-loop inspection and removal system--one of the first of its kind." notes Craig Wyvill, chief of the Food Processing Technology Division in the Electro-Optics, Environment and Materials Laboratory of GTRI. By removing unacceptable birds early in the operation, the systemic screener allows subsequent areas of the plant to have "higher utilization of the processing line," he notes.

While poultry processing is already highly automated, it still depends heavily on manual processes, many of which are visually based. …

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