Automation of Loin Puller Feeder Process
Van Deynze, Dylan
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Hylife has recently increased production and seeks to automate one of their existing processes. The process focuses on identifying, separating, orienting, and transferring hog middles from a main conveyor to two side conveyors. The middle is the section between the front and back legs of a hog and consists of the loin and belly. The current process is done manually by two workers. The manual work is strenuous on the workers, non-valued added, and inconsistencies can cause production halts and other issues. This report details a proposed automated solution that will relocate the current employees and saveapproximately$200,000 [CAD]annually. The proposed design uses a vision system to distinguish left from right middles and determines their orientation as they travel down the main conveyor. The proposed design then uses an automated mechanical arm to orient and transfer the middles to each side conveyor. From there, the autonomous vertical sequencing gates ensure the middles are released at the same time to eliminate inconsistencies which halt production. The automated feeder design is situated on a motorized linear track that moves the entire design out of the way when manual work is desired. To adhere to CFIA safety standards and HyLife’s internal food safety plan, the team implemented wash down protected actuators and food-safe materials, such as stainless steel 304 and316 as well as UHMW PE. The design can adapt to different feed rates ranging from 300 to 600 [hogs/hour], and can also accommodate production growth in the foreseeable future. The estimated total cost of the automated feeder is $256,110[CAD],resulting in an estimated payback period of 1.3 [years]. Even though the payback period is higher than the ideal value of one year, it is below the upper specification limit of 1.5 [years]. Additionally, the team performed a preliminary stress and displacement analysis, using SolidWorks FEA. The results verify that all components of the final proposed design have a minimum factor of safety of 2.0.