Smart Rib Saw for a Safer and More Productive Workplace


Meat plants around the world have been striving to improve workplace safety while simultaneously bettering productivity for many years. The global pandemic further exacerbates the need to automate processes that traditionally require human participation. Additionally, inconsistencies in human judgment at critical steps have prompted manufacturers to look for a repeatable process that delivers dependable results.

System Requirements

The application calls for a smart sawing machine that identifies the optimal cutting path to remove the spinal channel. The system needs to be able to determine the location from the scanned data and automatically direct the butcher saw to trim off the spinal channel. The more precise the cut is to the discarded portion, the higher the recovery rate of the meat, thereby, the better the bottom line.

System Description

In this application, two SL-1880E scanners are mounted above a conveyor transporting portions of beef during the butchering process. 3D geometric digital profiles of the meat are collected and pre-processed in the SL-1880E. Results are communicated via EtherNet/IP directly into a Programmable Automation Controller (PAC). For each portion of beef, the PAC determines a unique cutting path for the Smart Rib Saw.


One of the most dangerous cuts in a meat processing facility is manually sawing the spinal channel. Employing Hermary’s 3D machine vision, the Smart Rib Saw automates this cut. In addition to dramatically improving safety, other benefits include increased production throughput and improved consistency of cuts.  A typical plant makes this cut 16,000 times per day.

Using Hermary’s 3D scanners, the integration partner was also able to quickly deploy at multiple facilities after the initial success. 

“The Smart Rib Saw has the potential to change the way all Meat Processing plants function in the future. Both the safety factor and the production improvements for the plant are huge, and cannot be overlooked.” (2019)

Steve Dunivan (President), Midwest Machine

“I am the Plant Manager at a national meat processing plant. We have been using the smart rib saw for over five years now, and I can say without a doubt that it is one of the best automation machines we’ve installed. It has made the plant safer and increased our production. The machine is so easy to use and maintain that our team can handle it.” (2022)

Plant Manager at a national meat processing plant