injector maintenance

How Maintaining Your Injector Affects Product Quality and Yields

Industrial injectors are a big investment, so it’s worthwhile to regularly inspect and maintain them to ensure product longevity. But there’s even more reason to preserve them in an optimal state when it comes to yield consistency, food quality and safety, and expensive downtime.

While injector equipment manufacturers provide information on how to care for the company’s investment, these manuals are often lengthy and overwhelming. Sometimes, they’re not even accessible to personnel. All of this results in many processors neglecting to properly maintain their injectors.

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chilled brine

Should You Chill Your Brine?

Understanding proper brining methods for meat and meat alternatives are essential when it comes to improving product yields, product quality and your bottom line as a processor.

The process of brining generally entails marinating the meat or meat alternative in a solution (brine) containing salt and other functional ingredients before cooking.

Brining allows for a moist end result because it hydrates the cells of the muscle tissue before cooking as well as helps the cells to hold on to the water while they are being cooked.

That means that the process of brining, and doing so correctly, is crucial for processors who want to produce a tasty, quality meat product for consumers.

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cvm vacuum tumbler

Small to Medium-Sized Processors— Here’s why you’ll want the Henneken Type CVM Vacuum Tumbler

There seems to be an endless array of vacuum tumblers on the market today for processors to choose from, and researching the advantages of all the different platforms can be overwhelming.

That’s because there are a lot of factors that weigh in when investing in a new tumbler. For example, you might be looking to purchase based on a particular function, or maybe your priority is longevity.

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meat band saw

How to Improve Safety on a Meat Band Saw

Cutting meat with a band saw can be extremely dangerous.

Every year, 4,000 meat band saw-related amputations take place in the meatpacking industry. These injuries can be avoided through the right safety measures.

According to one study at Emory University, employees in this industry have a 60% higher probability of severe workplace-related injuries compared to those in other fields.

Aside from the injuries incurred, this also results in higher rates of:

  • missed time from work
  • medical costs
  • rehabilitation costs
  • Workers’ Comp costs
  • liability insurance increases,
  • OSHA fines
  • and outrageous legal costs for hearings and depositions.

In short, the risks involved with operating meat band saws are significant.

The Dangers of Meat Band Saws

Amputations occur when an operator’s body comes into contact with the band saw blade while feeding meat into the band saw.

From 2007-2017, there were 218 OSHA-reported amputations from meat band saws. However, this number is skewed– as many accidents on meat band saws are filed away as “Worker’s Comp” injuries when reported to OSHA.

Some of the most common causes of amputation related to meat band saws include:

  • The operator’s hand slipping off the meat and accidentally going through the blade
  • The operator attempting to remove meat from the band saw table while the blade is still in motion
  • The operator’s gloves, accessories, or clothing becoming entangled in the saw blade

The most severe complications of meat band saw injuries involve blood loss.

If a band saw blade cuts through the radial and ulnar arteries, found in the forearm, wrist, and hands, the high-pressure bleed can lead to significant blood loss in just a matter of seconds.

This can result in Hypovolemic shock, a condition that occurs when you lose more than one-fifth of your body’s blood, leading to organ failure.

Exsanguination, the most extreme form of hemorrhage, can also occur when you lose 40 percent or more of your body’s blood or fluid supply. This can be fatal if the bleeding isn’t stopped in time.

Some reports even suggest that death can occur within five minutes of injury if blood loss isn’t addressed.

Safety First

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to reduce band saw-related injuries from occurring in the first place. From procedure to an operator to equipment, several safety protocols can greatly reduce this workplace injury.

Provide adequate training

Safety starts with the operator. Develop and implement safe operating procedures for meat-cutting band saws and train every operator on those procedures. We recommend the following lessons:

  • Check and adjust all guards prior to use
  • Use a pushing guard to feed small pieces of meat into the blade
  • Do NOT wear jewelry or loose-fitting clothes while operating the saw
  • Secure long hair in a net or cap

Guard the entire blade

Install a guard over the entire blade, except the working portion or point of operation of the blade. The guard must be adjustable to cover the unused portion of the blade above the meat during cutting operations.

Use a pushing guard

When feeding smaller pieces of meat into the blade, operators should use a pushing guard — something that allows them to push the meat into the saw without their hands coming too close to the moving blade.

Ensure the blade is sharp and tensioned

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a sharper blade is a safer blade because a sharper blade will cut through the meat without the need for excessive pushing and without kicking the meat back at the operator. Review the manufacturer’s guidelines for blade sharpness and tension to ensure the blade doesn’t break while in use.

Ensure the blade stops before removing meat

Never try to remove meat from the work area while the band is still moving. Allow the blade to come to a full stop to ensure that no trips or slips will cause hands to come in contact with a moving blade.

Use a vision or contact-sensing system

Many newer band saws can be equipped with vision or contact-sensing systems that kill power to the machine when an operator’s hands get too close to the blade. Such systems allow the blade to be stopped within milliseconds once the system is triggered, saving operators from serious injuries.

Go Automatic

A new breed of automatic band saws has hit the market and is drastically reducing the number of injuries caused by conventional, hand-fed band saws.

The reason behind the safety improvement is simple: operators’ hands never come close to the moving blade.

These automatic band saws are designed with a moving table that feeds meat into the saw blade. Operators simply need to load the product onto the table, set the cutting parameters on the touch screen, and watch as the band saw does the work of cutting the meat product.

Safety gates, vision shields, and automatic shut-offs reduce the chances of an operator even coming close to the blade while in operation.

Creating a Safe Meat Plant

The bottom line is that meat plant operations can be very dangerous and even fatal to workers when it comes to band saw use.

Improving the safety of equipment use for meat band saw operators is the first step to creating a safer meat plant, overall. Following the above guidelines will help to ensure minimal risk of injury to your operators, as well as prevent unnecessary associated costs at your plant.

How to Properly Probe Product in a Smokehouse

Accurate temperature readings in your smokehouse are essential for improving yields, consistency, and food safety.

Unfortunately, a lot of smokehouse operators don’t know how to properly use a temperature probe. This means that temperatures are not being measured precisely — which gives way to varying degrees of product yields and consistency on the same truck and can result in a costly recall.

Proper probing is a relatively simple task, but it needs to be done consistently every single time.

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beef sticks

How to Step Cook Beef Sticks for Improved Yields and Consistency

Despite supply issues, the popularity of meat sticks remains on the rise.

In 2021, processors made a combined total of over $1.83 billion in sales for meat snacks at convenience stores alone– with meat sticks as the leading category. That’s up from $466 million in 2015 – almost a 1.5 billion dollar increase in six years!

Clearly, Americans love their meat sticks.

This sudden growth in popularity has left processors looking for ways to optimize their meat stick operation — to grab a larger share of the industry, outprice the competition, and make more money.

More specifically, it has put a lot of pressure on processors to improve yields and consistency in order to compete for those dollars.

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vacuum tumblers

Your Guide to Henneken Brand Vacuum Tumblers

Purchasing a vacuum tumbler can be a daunting task.

Do a quick Google search for “vacuum tumbler” and you’ll find thousands of options to choose from — all claiming to be the best on the market.

So how do you know which vacuum tumbler is right for YOUR specific meat product?

We laid out a process below to help you choose.

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single needle brine injectors

4 Benefits of Single Needle Brine Injectors

A brine injector is an essential piece of equipment for any meat processing company.

These machines are used to inject a brine mixture into the meat to add weight and flavor, which ultimately leaves more money in your pocket.

Uncooked meat and poultry products are typically sold by weight. Meaning, if you can make your product weigh more, look better, and cook better for the consumer, you can charge a premium price.

A brine injector allows you to do that — and gives the consumer a better experience when they cook your product.

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2021 donations

Fusion Tech Makes Donations to 10 Non-Profits

Supporting local and national charities is a key value here at Fusion Tech.

Since 2017, we’ve hosted a vote where our clients, community, and employees could choose which charity would receive our end-of-year donation. It’s been widely successful year after year, gaining hundreds and sometimes thousands of votes.

When the COVID pandemic hit, we donated a percentage of the sale of our COVID guards to local food pantries to help those in our region hit the hardest by lockdowns and loss of jobs.

It’s just part of our DNA. We give back out of the success we’ve received.

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column dumper safety

4 Ways Investing in a Column Dumper Can Improve Safety

Lifting is a primary cause of injury in the food processing industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, around a quarter of all manufacturing sector accidents happen in the food and beverage industry — with most of those injuries due to repetitive or improper lifting.

That should come as no surprise.

The most common tasks performed in the food processing industry are considered risk factors for injury. These include lifting, moving, handling, loading, and maintaining an awkward body position, such as when stirring product in large vats.

Investing in lift assist devices, such as a column dumper, is essential for reducing the risk of injury.

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