For one UK solutions provider, the answer is to rethink the outdated processes used by meat processing facilities. Cutting Edge Services is a supplier of food processing machinery and knife sharpening services based in Chorley, UK. The company has been operating for 25 years and has adapted to face many of the industry’s challenges over that time.
“Looking back over the last twenty years, the meat processing industry has taken a very traditional approach to deconstructing naked products such as meat and poultry,” explains Sam Tinsley, managing director of Cutting Edge. “Even today, abattoirs and meat processing facilities use manually intensive processes that require workers to handle very sharp cutting tools and machinery. Much of this machinery lacks the intelligence to provide digital insights into how processes can be made safer and more efficient.
“What’s more, because meat processors are under pressure from their retail customers to deliver products around the clock, in the past they’ve taken a short-term view on return on investment for their legacy equipment, favoring a payback period of twelve-months or less. Because of this, business leaders have been reluctant in the past to invest in digital technology that paid for itself outside this timeframe. However, the squeeze from retailers and from the labor market means that they now have to look beyond this.”
As one of very few female leaders in the heavily male-dominated meat processing industry, Sam sought to not only challenge the gender bias, but also change the culture of technological reluctance in the industry. When she was appointed managing director in 2017 by the company’s founder and chairman David Mook, Sam began a process of moving the industry away from its traditional image of using legacy technology, which is labor intensive and high risk. Instead, she put forward a vision for an industry that’s safe, efficient, clinical, and uses the latest intelligent technology.
“While manufacturers now understand that adopting digital technologies is crucial in bringing about a sustained benefit to their business, there is a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and fear about what steps they need to take,” continues Tinsley. “This is why we wanted to collaborate with a trusted technology partner that could help us achieve our customers’ vision.”