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Poultry industry shows off research, technology to customers at expo

POSTED: February 4, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Robin Michener Nathan/The Times

Frank Nicoletti of Stork Food Systems shows off a model of the company's Controlled Atmospheric Stunning System Wednesday at the International Poultry Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center.

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ATLANTA — For the poultry industry, this is the big one: acres of equipment that handle everything from eggs to processed chickens and everything in between.

The 60th annual International Poultry Expo may not be the biggest show held at the Georgia World Congress Center, but for the poultry industry, this is the granddaddy of them all.

It’s three days of meeting face to face with customers and potential customers. It’s also a chance to show off the latest and greatest.

For Dane Woods of Cantrell Machine Co. in Gainesville, it’s a chance to display the company’s latest device, an automated washer that cleans both the outside and inside of the chicken.

"The nozzle goes inside the bird twice," Woods said. "The probe can be adjusted to use less water." The machine can be adjusted to use between 50 and 75 gallons of water per minute, and some of the water can be reclaimed and used again.

Another Gainesville company, Stork Food Systems, is showing models of a new system for preparing chickens for slaughter.

"What this system does is gracefully drop the birds onto a belt and they go into a first stage where they get a mild shot of CO2," said Frank Nicoletti, executive vice president of Stork. Later they get a second shot of CO2 before they enter the rest of the processing system.

But the show is not just about processing. Officials with the Food Processing Technology Division of the Georgia Tech Research Institute are conducting research in how to prevent repetitive motion injuries in poultry plant workers.

The research involves using computer generated monitoring from devices that measure the amount of motion and muscle stress.

Jonathan Holmes, a Georgia Tech research engineer, has conducted studies in poultry plants.

"We’ve gone to some plants in South Georgia and suited up five or six workers with the test equipment," Holmes said. "We plan to test 40 workers by the end of the year."

The monitoring equipment is attached by wires to devices which are mounted on a harness worn by the worker. The devices communicate through wireless computer technology with a laptop computer which records the motion of the hand, forearm, upper arm and shoulder. When muscles are tensed, the action is reflected on the animated arm on the computer screen and the tension is measured by a series of lines at the bottom of the screen. The more the arm is engaged, the more active the lines.

The poultry industry has found technology used in other applications may have benefits for the industry. Rob Tiernay of Anritsu Industrial Solutions of Buffalo Grove, Ill. offers a device which uses the same technology for airport luggage screening. In this instance, the x-ray is looking for bone fragments or other foreign objects inside filleted chicken breasts.

"The only difference is we are not looking for metal guns and knives," Tiernay said. "We are instead looking for small metal fragments, pieces of glass, pieces of wire, bone or stone."

In a related meeting Wednesday night, the National Poultry and Food Distributors Association honored executives with two Gainesville companies.

Doug Carnes, who retired last year from Mar-Jac Poultry, was presented with the Industry Lifetime Achievement Award by the association.

"I’ve been in the poultry business since I was old enough to feed and catch chickens," said Carnes, who lives in Forsyth County. "Every meal I’ve ever had came as a result of the poultry industry."

Carnes, who still serves on Mar-Jac’s board of directors, marvels at the changes in the industry.

"When I first started in poultry processing in the 1970s, everything was still done by hand. Pretty much everything is done by machine now."

The association also named Walter Cooper, an executive with Pilgrim’s Pride in Gainesville as its Member of the Year.



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