Alatrade, a Davis Lee Company, in Boaz, AL, employs 400 people. The plant operates two shifts and produces over 1.2 million pounds of boneless whole leg meat per week. Until the implementation of the Foodmate OPTI Whole Leg Deboner, about a year ago, production consisted of manual stations only.
“We incorporated the Foodmate system into our production because the complexity of our staffing needs created a challenge to meet the demand of our customers. As we were not able to staff our plant as needed, the decision to purchase the Foodmate whole leg deboner was made in order to fill that gap”, said James Blake, plant manager, “ … and the system has not disappointed us.”, continued Blake.
The plant was operating 4 manual lines consisting of stationary hand deboning with 96 staffed positions in total or 24 per line. With the Foodmate whole leg deboner, only 13 people are required to run the machine and 2 additional people to operate the skinner. “The skinner has proven to be an integral part of the machine’s success, as leg quality going in the machine is very important to final product quality. Having the Foodmate team assisting us with proper operational training and maintenance played a huge part in our success,” stated Blake.
FOODMATE SOLUTION AND END RESULTS
Alatrade’s main goal was to reduce staff and improve yields. Foodmate sales and support teams arranged for several machine tests and a visit to a plant operating the OPTI LTD Whole Leg Deboner; and after extensive reviews, the Alatrade team felt comfortable that the implementation of the system would fulfill their goals.
After one year in operation, the company reports successful results: “The OPTI Whole Leg Deboner runs an average 92-95 legs a minute, requiring a total staffing of 15 people to run the line, which is about 10 less than previously required with manual deboning”, stated Blake. “The plant has also seen great yield improvement. Overall yield – including both manual and automated – has improved about 0.75 – 1%, keeping in mind that only 1 of 4 lines are automated. One of my favorite features of this machine is the way it cleans the bone – the technology is impressive,” added Blake.
The company attributes the consistent success of this system to their commitment to protocol adherence. The Alatrade team follows all routine recommended checks and preventive maintenance procedures suggested by Foodmate on a weekly basis. The Foodmate service and support teams work closely with Alatrade and have implemented a very successful plan including a Foodmate technician visiting the plant quarterly. Additionally, Foodmate has provided Alatrade with a week of hands on training at the Foodmate Inpirience Center, in Ball Ground, GA.