JBS considers deautomation of deboning lines

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In an effort to boost efficiency throughout its poultry processing units, JBS SA is considering replacing machines with people on production lines.

Remodeling poultry production lines will be a top priority. Currently, many deboning lines at JBS's Pilgrim's Pride facilities are automated, which contrary to popular belief isn't helping the company's bottom line.

While automated deboning helps reduce labour costs, the company has found the machines are missing valuable poultry meat in the corners of bones that actual workers would get with their hands. By hiring and training employees to replace machines at Pilgrim's Pride facilities alone, the company could recover US$100 mill. in lost value.

In the third quarter, which ended Sept. 25, JBS' American subsidiary Pilgrim's Pride posted a loss of US$162.5 mill. Aside from cutting costs, JBS and its subsidiaries will be on a strategic track of productivity and efficiency gains. Losses at Pilgrim's Pride were due mainly to excess product on the market, in addition to necessary synergies in the company that JBS is still working on.

JBS President Wesley Batista explained that process automation is customary in the industry in the U.S., mainly because earlier this decade, before the global economic crisis hit, the American unemployment rate was low with a shortage of semi-skilled labour.
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