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As Argentina fully opened for beef exports at the end of 2015, an opportunity arose for a handful of beef processors to regain market share. The supermarket chain La Anónima has built a strong reputation as a beef processor at home, and now sees possibilities for further expanding into foreign markets.

La Anónima is the fourth largest supermarket chain in Argentina – with 161 stores throughout the entire country. Each store currently has its own butcher, but La Anónima is working toward a more centralised meat-production and cutting operation. According to Nicolas Braun, the CEO of La Anónima and the great grandson of the company’s founder, there is good reason to invest in automation.

“While we still had the strong beef export regulations in Argentina, we put all of our efforts into creating stable and efficient beef production in our plants to supply our own supermarkets and the home market. Now we will also be able to work toward expanding exports, mainly to Germany and Israel. ”The focus on supplying quality meat to the many La Anónima supermarkets still has high priority, however.”

“With our two meat processing plants we supply various cuts of beef and primals to the supermarkets, where they are further cut and processed. We want to make that process more efficient, which is why we also bought the StreamLine deboning and trimming system. This means that there is no need for extra trimming and cutting in the supermarket stores.”

NEW TECHNOLOGY IS A CHALLENGE

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When La Anónima decided to bring in the new StreamLine technology, they knew it would be a challenge to change their production methods. “Implementing new technology demands a lot of commitment,” says Nicolas Braun, “but we felt that with Marel we had found a good long-term partner who would help us move forward. In fact, the cooperation with Marel – both here and in Iceland – is excellent. They have sufficient experience to understand perfectly what we ask for and what we need.”

THE SYSTEM PROVIDES FULL INSIGHT

Frederico Muniz, Slaughterhouse Manager at La Anónima, explains how the StreamLine system has provided a great deal of help in the production of end products. “The StreamLine system allows us to get information about what is going on all the way through production. It provides us very accurate online traceability, per individual cut, without losing productivity.”

After carcasses leave the cooling room they are cut down into quarters and large primals. In the process of cutting down the carcass, a barcode is scanned into the system for traceability. Every subsequent cut performed on the primals relates back to that barcode.

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The implementation of the StreamLine deboning and trimming system was easily adopted by new operators coming into the factory, whereas those already working in the meat processing plan had a more difficult time “accepting” the new system. After some time passed, however, they all fully adapted to the system and see the benefits it brings.

For example, results can now be seen while work is ongoing – instead of having to wait for the whole day of production to end – and adjustments and improvements can be made during the production process itself. “We have seen that a traditional pace line system takes approximately 20% more people to work it,” says Muniz. “The StreamLine system is very labor efficient and more ergonomic as well. The operators do not need to reach for the products – they are led directly to their cutting stations.”

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SMOOTH OPERATIONS COMBINED WITH SERVICE

At the same time as LaAnonima invested in the StreamLine deboning and trimming system, they also invested in a Marel Service Level Agreement (SLA). Muniz explains their service considerations: “Any company that invests in such a big and advanced solution as ours has to consider that they cannot save money by just keeping it as it is. They have to properly run and maintain it. Fortunately we have been able to work well with our equipment – and the need for maintenance and spare parts has been well managed.”