“Companies can master a wide range of products with the highly flexible solutions from TVI.”

Interview with Alois Allgaier, CEO of TVI Entwicklung und Produktion GmbH in Irschenberg

TVI is the leading manufacturer of meat-portioning machines and complete portioning lines. The wide spectrum of applications ranges from tempering of the initial product through to virtually every type of portioning, and from loading into trays including weight checking, right up to transferring the finished portions to the packaging machine. Since January 2017 TVI has been part of the MULTIVAC Group.

Mr Allgaier, the acquisition of TVI was an important strategic step for MULTIVAC in the processing sector. The cooperation offers significant benefits for TVI as well. But how do customers throughout the world benefit from this?

We can now offer our customers in this market segment complete solutions from one source - starting from portioning and going through the entire packaging procedure right up to end-of-line equipment. This means our customers now benefit from MULTIVAC's comprehensive expertise in automation equipment and packaging lines, which is based on experience from around 1,000 projects completed every year. The primary aim of the cooperation is the integration and intelligent linking of TVI products and MULTIVAC packaging machines into complete lines with the highest possible level of automation and efficiency, so that these lines can be controlled reliably and conveniently via one central operating unit. This also means our customers only have one contact person for all questions and requirements with regard to both their portioning and packaging procedures. And this applies worldwide.

 

Mr Allgaier, is the integration already complete or are further stages still required?

We are well on the way. The complete sales organisation has been running via the MULTIVAC subsidiaries since the beginning of January 2019, and all external agent contracts were dissolved on 31 December 2018. Our local colleagues have now received intensive training and have built up comprehensive knowledge about the TVI products. We are also working closely with the Documentation, Marketing, IT, and Training departments within the MULTIVAC Group. In addition to this, we also successfully completed the introduction of SAP in 2018, and other integration projects, such as the implementation of MEP (MULTIVAC Development Process), are already in the planning stage.

 

 

The TVI product range consists of groundbreaking solutions for perfect product tempering and freezing, pressing, portioning, and automating, as well as equipment for winding grill sticks and manufacturing kebab skewers. Are you planning an expansion of the product range, and are you also intending to extend your business activity in regions, which up to now have been underrepresented?

I can answer this question with a clear “Yes”. In future we will offer a complete product range from the smallest to the largest meat portioning machines in the market. As regards the second part of your question: Thanks to the MULTIVAC sales organisation, which operates on a worldwide basis, customers in new markets can also benefit in future from our solutions. Examples of this are emerging countries worldwide and the booming nations in Asia and South America, where meat consumption is growing at a disproportionate rate.

 

What benefits do TVI solutions offer over other solutions in the market?

Generally speaking, our portioning solutions are characterised by five features. Firstly: Quality. Even forming, parallel cutting, and a defined cutting edge and overall result create a significant increase in the quality of the meat products. The visually more attractive portions enable our customers to gain significantly greater sales opportunities and this creates deeper product loyalty to our customers, as well as enhanced support for their brand.

Secondly: Flexibility. Companies can master a wide range of products with the same equipment thanks to the universal portioning and loading solutions from TVI. This aspect is increasingly gaining in importance, since individual production batches are constantly becoming smaller. Production lines are no longer being designed solely for one single product, but instead they have to be capable of being converted flexibly and above all quickly to a wide range of different products. Our systems are able to fulfil virtually any portioning task - from carpaccio to medallions, cutlets or roulades, and even large joints, either with or without bone and for pork, lamb, or calf meat. Thanks to our flexible “Universal lines”, we can also support the supply capability of our customers, since in the event of one line breaking down, the same products can be taken up by another line.

Thirdly: Yield. This plays a significant role in regard to costs. Yield increases of between 2 and 7 % can often be achieved with our solutions. This improves the added value from the raw product enormously and counteracts food wastage.

Fourthly: Reduction of give-away with fixed-weight portions. Thanks to a high level of weight accuracy for the portions, as well as efficient monitoring and correction of the loaded trays, it is possible to achieve a give-away of under 1 % for products without bone and under 1.5 % for bone-in products. These are based on the FPVO rules and at least four slices per tray.

Fifthly: Reduction of operating costs. Our highly efficient and often highly automated loading solutions make it possible to achieve a very high output per operator on the line. The energy efficiency aspect relates primarily to the generation of chilling energy for blast freezing the raw product. The TVI chilling equipment works in closed loops with very efficient chilling systems. Compared to cryogenic tunnels or cabin systems, we are talking here of between 1/10 and 1/20 of the operating costs, with the result that our systems can be amortised within a maximum of two years.

 

How much does the temperature of the raw product influence the portioning result and the quality of the portion?

The temperature of the raw product is one of the main factors in a high level of portioning quality. Controlled tempering of the raw product becomes even more important, as the requirements of quality, output, yield, cutting accuracy, and visual appearance increase. This applies to every meat portioning machine, including our proven GMS series.

Depending on the type of product, we recommend the raw product has a low, chilled core temperature of approx. 0° to 2° C or 0° to 4° C with a very small freezer crust of approx. 3 to 5 mm. If there is no blast freezer crust, the temperature should be consistently under 0° C. The freezer crust does however significantly improve the forming and cutting of the portions, and therefore also the visual appearance and placement. This gives them a defined knife exit and a clean edge without any notches or torn fibres. In addition to the processing benefits, this freezing also offers additional customer benefits in terms of shelf life and logistics.

I should also mention at this point, that with our meat portioning machines the forming and cutting are performed in one process. This means we only need a minimal freezer crust, as I have just described above. This is often significantly smaller than is the case with similar products on the market or with external presses. This also creates a quality advantage, since fewer meat fibres are damaged, if the ice formation is less. Further benefits result from less juice loss and fewer colour changes in the tray.

 

Mr Allgaier, let's now briefly look in more detail at the aspect of trim-free portioning ...

An important subject. Forming of the product plays a central role. Thanks to optimum forming of the raw product, an evenly formed cross section is presented along the entire product length. This means evenly large and evenly thick slices can be cut over the whole piece of meat. There are therefore no first or last end cuts or similar offcuts, which can often be considerable. In some cases however for quality reasons it may be necessary to have a first or last end cut. However, the TVI systems can keep these as small as possible.

Our machine control enables the customer to choose, whether in fixed-weight mode he would like to cut the slice weights as exact as possible, and therefore also accept a piece of trim, or whether in trim-free mode he would like to distribute this theoretical trim evenly to all the slices. This does however create a small fluctuation in the slice weight, but this can easily be compensated for via the loading lines and their checkweighing stations, so that the highest possible product yield can be achieved with the smallest give-away.

The focus is increasingly on sustainability and efficient use of resources. Which options do you offer your customers for keeping their consumption of water and energy as low as possible when tempering and portioning?

For our machine technology we use servo drives and control programs, which are optimised for power-saving acceleration and motion, and our chilling equipment also offers the possibility of connecting to heat recovery systems. But in our view, the much more crucial aspect is the significant increase in product yield, which I have mentioned above. This reduces meat consumption and therefore optimises the use and added value of this resource-intensive and highly valuable raw material.

 

What is your focus at IFFA 2019?

We will of course be demonstrating our expertise in automation with a highly efficient line, including a portioning system and packaging machine. The focus for the rest of our product range will be on three-dimensional pressing with the GMS 1600 twincut. This solution features a significantly reduced footprint, a high level of efficiency and many extra benefits for our customers, since it does not require an additional meat press.

 

Our last question relates to the TVI Training and Application Center, which opened in 2018. What can your customers expect there?

As with the MULTIVAC Training and Innovation Center in Wolfertschwenden, we too can offer intensive training courses under real conditions either at our company premises or on-site at our customers. The training courses are directed at all those, who need to become familiar with our products - this means operators of TVI machines, as well as maintenance engineers, but also our colleagues from Sales and Service within the MULTIVAC Group. The training courses are designed around the specific needs and knowledge of up to six participants per course. The aim is to convey well-grounded and detailed knowledge to all participants, allowing them to use this to best effect in their daily working lives.

 

Mr Allgaier, many thanks for a most interesting discussion.