Kinea Design and Scott Technology Selected by MLA to Lead Development and Commercialization of World's First Beef Boning Co-Robot
Kinea Design and Scott Technology today jointly announced that they have been selected by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to develop and commercialize HookAssist, the world's first beef boning collaborative robot. The HookAssist co-robot works collaboratively with operators to amplify - not replace -- human effort. The innovation, in trials now with one of the world's largest meat companies, is aimed at increasing yield and productivity, reducing workplace injuries, and alleviating labor shortages in the meat processing industry.
Kinea Design and Scott Technology today jointly announced that they have been selected by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to develop and commercialize HookAssist, the world's first beef boning collaborative robot.
Designed to take on heavy physical demands of workers who de-bone large cuts of meat in processing plants, HookAssist is capable of increasing operator pull strength by a factor of 10 to 1. Unlike conventional automation solutions, HookAssist is not a tool to replace operators. Instead, the HookAssist co-robot works collaboratively with operators by amplifying human effort.
The joint initiative - Kinea Design, leading research, development and engineering design, and Scott Technology, leading beta testing, support and commercialization - is currently being tested at one of the world's largest meat companies and commercialization is expected in the second half of 2012.
HookAssist is the result of a five-year program, initiated by MLA and Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) to create technologies to increase yield and productivity, reduce workplace injuries, and alleviate labor shortages in the meat processing industry.
"Research shows that over the course of an eight-hour beef-boning operator shift, yield decreases and the incidence of job injuries increase due to worker fatigue," said David Doral, manager of the processing and efficiency sustainability team within MLA. "By taking on the heavy physical requirements of the work, HookAssist frees operators to focus on their craft, thereby increasing productivity and yield."
Power Steering for Beef Boning Operators
Just as power steering amplifies the steering effort exerted by a driver-- if an operator pulls with 10 pounds of force, HookAssist pulls with 100 pounds. A two-axis power-assist on the hook does 90% of the work of pulling, tearing, and/or lifting large sections of cut meat, while allowing four additional axes of passive motion for maximum maneuverability. Workers control the power-amplifying hook by grasping a handle on a gimbal and maneuvering it as they would normally - no buttons to press, no training to undergo.
MLA and AMPC commissioned Kinea Design to develop HookAssist after a global review found company engineers had solved similar challenges for the automotive industry. Experts in human-interactive mechatronics, Kinea Design engineers are the inventors of "Cobotics" - collaborative robots that work beside or cooperatively with people and that enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety.
"We are honored to have been chosen to apply our expertise in human-machine interaction to address key challenges in the meat processing industry," said Julio Santos-Munn, chief of operations, Kinea Design. "We are thrilled to be collaborating with the team at Scott to begin validating this technology."
In addition to being named the exclusive global commercializer of HookAssist, Scott Technology has now invested in the technology, and is working alongside MLA to bring HookAssist to market.
"We believe HookAssist will provide a powerful, competitive advantage for beef boning operations and are excited to have been chosen to lead its commercialization efforts," said Sean Staring, General Manager, Scott Technology. "Early test results have shown HookAssist to be effective at alleviating physical burden on workers, while also being completely intuitive and transparent. This combination will help drive up yield, while enabling the operator to keep knife skills and workmanship alive."
Originally intended for boning beef hindquarter, HookAssist is a system platform applicable to a range of applications, including: forequarter boning, small stock boning and slaughter, material handling and other strenuous meat processing industry activities. For more information about HookAssist, visit http://www.kineadesign.com/portfolio/hookassist/.
About Kinea Design
Kinea Design LLC is a privately-held research and engineering design services firm with expertise in the development of mechatronic devices involving human interaction. From haptic technologies to palm-sized biomedical instruments to industrial collaborative robots, Kinea Design serves a range of clients in commercial, military, healthcare and academic research sectors. For more information, visit http://www.kineadesign.com.
About Scott Technology
Scott Technology Ltd is a New Zealand-owned, publicly-held engineering company that specialises in the design and manufacture of automated production and process machinery. The Company serves the Appliances, Mining, Food Processing industries and other industries and is a globally recognized as a world class builder of advanced automation systems. For more information, visit http://www.scotttechnology.com.au.