US RE41409 E1
A device for processing flesh includes at least one transport belt, at least one element for position detection as well as at least one separating device and at least one control device, wherein the separating device communicates via the control device with the element for position detection which provides information to be recorded and processed into geometric data of the flesh and image data of the flesh so that separating cuts based on the geometric and image data can be made with the separating device.
1. A device An apparatus for processing flesh including at least one transport means adapted to move flesh, at least one element which detects the position of the flesh, at least one separating means for making variant, variant cuts of the flesh, and at least one control device apparatus, wherein the element for detecting the position of the flesh is electronically connected with the separating means via the control device apparatus, and said element for detecting the position of the flesh provides information to be recorded and processed at least into geometric data of the flesh and image data of the flesh, so that separating cuts based on the geometric and image data can be made with the separating means, wherein said element consists of a transmitter and a receiver for recording the geometric and image data and wherein the receiver is a single camera and the transmitter and receiver are positioned above the transport means.
2. The device apparatus according to
3. The device apparatus according to
4. The device apparatus according to
5. The device apparatus according to
6. The device apparatus according to
7. The device apparatus according to
8. The device apparatus according to
9. The device apparatus according to
10. The device according to
11. A method for processing flesh, including the following steps:
transport of the flesh by a transport means into the a processing region of a device for processing flesh according to
detection of the position and properties of the flesh by means of the element for position detection by recording information and processing the information at least into geometric data of the flesh and image data of the flesh, and
driving the separating means with the control device apparatus and performing separating cuts with the aid of the detected data according to a preselected processing program. program,
characterized in that transmission and receiving of signals for detection of the position and properties of the flesh takes place from above the transport means and the geometric data and image data are recorded by means of a single camera which is a component of the element.
12. The method according to
13. The method according to
14. The device apparatus according to
This is a continuation application of U.S. Ser. No. 09/744,519, filed Apr. 19, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,604,991; which is a 371 of PCT/EP99/05283 filed Jul. 27, 1999.
The invention concerns a device or a method for processing flesh such as e.g. fish. Such a method or such a device is known, for example from U.S. Pat. No. 4,557,019. In this an automatic fish fillet cutting device together with associated method is disclosed, producing portions with a predetermined weight. Here it is a drawback that determination of the density of the fish fillet necessitates several manual working steps. Another drawback results from the fact that cutting of the fillet pieces is effected transversely to the direction of conveying.
It is the object of the present invention to provide a device or a method which enable automated reliable and flexible processing of fish.
The object is achieved according to the invention by the fact that a device for processing flesh is provided, including at least one transport means, at least one element for position detection as well as at least one separating means and at least one regulating and/or control device, wherein the separating means communicates by means of the regulating and/or control device with the element for position detection. A development according to the invention provides that the separating means is arranged essentially freely slidably in the space in order to perform precise cuts.
In another development according to the invention it is provided that the separating means comprises at least one circular blade.
Further it can be provided according to the invention that a device for processing flesh is provided, including at least one transport means, at least one element for position detection as well as at least one means for removing areas of different consistency and at least one regulating and/or control device, wherein the means for removing areas of different consistency communicates by means of the regulating and/or control device with the element for position detection.
A development according to the invention provides that the means for removing areas of different consistency comprises at least two precisely spaced-apart circular blades.
In another development according to the invention it is provided that the device includes an element for position detection, wherein this element for position detection comprises at least one transmitter and at least one receiver.
Further it can be provided according to the invention that the transmitter is a light source and the receiver is an optoelectronic system.
A development according to the invention provides that between transmitter and receiver is arranged at least one shading element.
In another development according to the invention it is provided that the separating means is arranged essentially parallel to the transport means.
Further it can be provided according to the invention that a method is provided in which a device according to one or more of the above claims is used.
A practical example of the invention is shown in the drawings below. They show:
The device for processing 1 includes, as shown in
The speed pick-up or clock signal generator 16 is coupled to the conveyor belt drive motor 23 and delivers the information on movement of the transport means 3 or its conveyor belt 4 via the signal wires 18 to the image computer 10 and to the regulating/control device 22. The blades 13, 21 described above are driven by means of flexible shafts which are coupled by a reduction gear for flexible shafts 25 to the blade drive motor 17, wherein the blade drive motor operates at constant speed. In an alternative embodiment the blade drive motor communicates via signal wires 18 with the regulation/control device. The control/signal wires 18 connect all functional elements of the device 1 to the regulating/control device 22, so that essentially the blades 13 and 21, taking into account the individual position of the fillets on the conveyor belt 4 after image evaluation followed by computer analysis of the pinbones and e.g. the ventral flank of the fish fillets, are controlled in such a way that the pinbone strip is separated out from the fillet without skin by the essentially parallel, spaced-apart circular blades 13, and the ventral flank is separated out by the horizontal blade 21. The drive mechanism of the horizontal blade 20 ensures, together with the horizontal blade pivot device 28, that the horizontal blade 21 swings in, the moment the perforated conveyor belt conveys the ventral flank of the fish fillet into the radius of action of the horizontal blade 21. The blade pivot device 28 operates in this embodiment pneumatically, and receives the pivot signal from the control device 22 at the appropriate moment by means of the signal wires 18, and moves the blade 21 into a plane parallel to the conveyor belt 4 or to the fish fillet in order to separate the ventral flank essentially from the skin of the fillet. Analogously, the pair of circular blades 13 are lowered into the fillet the moment the control device 22 signals impingement of the pinbone strip to the circular blade lifting/lowering device 24 by means of the signal wires 18, in such a way that only the pinbone strip is separated from the skin of the fillet by means of a chisel which is arranged between the blades 13, and for this eventuality the blade 21 remains in the waiting position (outside the cutting region). By means of the stepping motor 26, which can be seen in
The transport system generates at precise intervals of for example 20 mm. by means of a clock signal generator 16, a clock signal which passes via a control/signal wire 18 to the regulating/control device 22, as shown e.g. in FIG. 1.
The video images of the electronic camera 8 are detected by the image computer for example at 25 images per second. The images are first stored temporarily in a precise memory area of the image computer 10.
When the clock signal comes from the clock signal generator 16 of the transport system, an evaluation is made of the last image recorded and stored. The transition line to a shaded region 31 which is formed by the shading element 9 in connection with the light source 7 is examined. Here it is relevant whether it is a question of a straight shadow line 33 or a deflected shadow line 34, that is, a so-called contour line, as shown in FIG. 3b. Due to projection of a straight edge, a projected shadow line occurs at a precise region on the conveyor belt 4. Shading is effected by the plate 9 which is mounted in the lighting chamber in such a way that it does not lie in the field of recording or vision of the camera, wherein the field of vision of the camera is composed of the shaded region 31 and the illuminated image region 32, which can be seen in FIG. 1. The shaded region 31 produced by the shading element 9 lies in the field of vision of the camera. On account of the angle between the light source and the camera, the shadow line in the camera image varies with respect to location and form when an object lies on the conveyor belt. If therefore there is deformation, the presence of a fillet on the conveyor belt is deduced.
If there is no fillet present, the current image in the memory of the image computer 10 is erased. But if there is a fillet present, a copy of the shadow line is filed in another memory area of the image computer, as shown in FIG. 2a. Therefore a topology map of the fillet is built up each time at the predetermined transport intervals. As soon as a fillet has been completely transported out of the shadow region, if there is a straight shadow line again after the deformations of the shadow line, a complete copy of the current camera image is stored in another memory area of the image computer 10, as can be seen in FIG. 2c. Immediately afterwards, image analysis is commenced on the copied image.
Each individual contour line 34 is analysed with the aid of so-called curve discussion, which as a result allows a statement about the contour shape of the area under analysis. In the location which is directly in the region to be analysed and in which the height is equal to zero, lies the outer boundary of the fish fillet. If these zero points are now joined e.g. by mathematical methods such as spline interpolation or the like methods, the result is a computer-generated outer contour which in combination e.g. with the detected contour shape allows a statement about the volume of the product presented. By multiplication by the relative density of the product, therefore, a statement about the weight of each individual product is possible.
First the recorded topology map is brought into register with the copied image. In a first step the topology reproduces the outer boundary of the fillet—its contour.
Next the contour is related to that of a representative fillet (standard fillet) stored in the image computer. This standard fillet contains information on morphological peculiarities of a given species, e.g. where the so-called pinbones are located. This can be illustrated in such a way that the standard fillet is pulled like a rubber skin into the contour of the fillet to be examined. In the process the external shape of the standard fillet can be distorted, but the basic proportions are preserved. In particular the position to be expected of the pinbone strip is therefore already clearly confined.
In the confined region of the position to be expected of the pinbone strip, a further analysis of the topology map is made. For each individual shadow line 34 the point which on account of the contour shape is located on the desired pinbone line is computer analysed, and there is differential comparison of the actual contour line with a mathematical curve.
The pinbone points thus derived from the contour lines are combined by a polynomial approximation into a smoothed line. This line is widened by a given tolerance, so that there is now further confinement of the possible pinbone line position 34, as can be seen from FIG. 3.
Within the given tolerance range, an analysis of the copied image is then made. With a mathematical filter function, in the halftones of the image a kind of trench structure is sought (lighter picture points merge with darker ones and then again with lighter ones). Here, use is made of the fact that the fat and cartilage strip in which the pinbones are embedded can be seen in the halftone image as a darker line. The points within the tolerance range which exhibit this trench structure are utilised as pinbone points.
The number of points found is again smoothed by a polynomial approximation and the polynomial parameters are transmitted via a RS 232 data link from the image computer 10 to the regulating/control device 22 which controls the stepping motors for the pinbone cut or ventral flank cut.
An improvement in visibility of the fat line is made in an alternative embodiment by means of lighting properties and optical glass filters. As the fat lines 38 which can be seen in
In an alternative embodiment there is provision for the use of a camera to determine the contour lines and the use of a further camera to determine the halftone images, the two cameras cooperating in the manner already described with the device or its image computer 10.
The horizontal blade 21 shown in
An alternative embodiment of the horizontal blade 21 shown in
In the so-called ventral flank cut, in addition the horizontal blade 21 cuts off a piece from the ventral flank. The following cutting variants such as loin/tail cut and trim cut are in each case variants of the types of cut described above.
In a further embodiment according to
With the device according to the invention there is therefore the possibility of making both pinbone cuts and loin/tail cuts or trim cuts or ventral flank cuts. Further it is possible to detect pectoral fins, walking sticks, blank ventral skin and/or blood spots. The separated residual pieces such as pinbone pieces or ventral flank are conveyed separately out of the machine, so that in this way they are available for subsequent further processing.