Since July of 1997, Hatfield Quality Meats has
utilized the Autofom Grading System as a part of its carcass merit-buying
program. The Autofom System is comprised of a stationary ultrasonic
transducer array that requires no operator. Each carcass passes
over the array after the de-hairing when the carcass is still
warm and pliable in order to ensure good contact with the transducers.
Extensive image analysis results in the determination of 127
key predictors. These predictors are used in an equation to generate
a measurement called Primal Cut Percent. Primal Cut Percent provides
a measure of carcass leanness and is the key component to determining
carcass value. The Primal Cut Percent is the percent of the carcass
made up of trimmed loins, hams and shoulders. In addition to
the Primal Cut Percent, the Autofom also provides a prediction
of the individual weights of the primal cuts plus the belly.
The Autofom System has proven to be very accurate
and reliable. To date, overall down time and maintenance requirements
have been less than required with our previous Fat-o-meat'er system.
There is little physical maintenance required because there are
no moving mechanical parts in the system. Prediction accuracy
with the Autofom has improved 30% from the Fat-o-meat'er based
Reliable trolley identification is a key part
to the entire Autofom system. Accurately linking the Autofom
information and carcass weight and transferring that information
accurately to the mainframe is critical. The combination of trolley
read rate and Autofom scanning capability provides the measure
of system performance. Presently, over 99% of all carcasses are
scanned and identified.
The primary use of the Autofom to date has been
for carcass merit payment. Currently, Hatfield uses Autofom information
for selecting carcasses for case ready production and reduced
fat bacon. In the future, the Autofom will be used more extensively
to segregate carcasses for optimal use in the fabrication area.
Knowing the contents of a carcass prior to fabrication can have
a significant impact on profitability. Many additional applications
of Autofom Technology are possible. We have already begun to
research the possibility of predicting loin eye area and marbling.