Engineering Development of Automated Temperature System – UA05-CNAG

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Engineering Development of Automated Temperature System – UA05-CNAG

This project's purpose is to develop a decision control system containing the best applicable robotics, machine vision, database management system, optimization models and control systems for controlling a critical processing variable after extensive literature research.


National Science Foundation
ConAgra Foods

Research Team:

Earnest W. Fant

Universities Involved:

University of Arkansas

Start Date:


End Date:



This research study involves the consideration and evaluation of a decision support system for controlling a critical processing variable, which is the internal temperature of the cooked meat portions on a processing line. The decision support system assists an automated system for processing of the cooked meat portions more effectively by increasing the processing rate to obtain a higher yield. The automated system ensures that the cooked meat portions meet the USDA requirements concerning the internal temperature.
This proposal defines a research study and development to implement the previous research entitled “Automated Assessment of a Critical Food Processing Variable” which had the objective of determining the economic feasibility and technical practically of automating the assessment and controlling of a critical process variable for cooked meat portions. The USDA has defined this variable as a minimum of 157 degree Fahrenheit maintained for ten seconds for the inside temperature for a sampled cooked meat (beef and pork) portion exiting from an oven. This USDA criterion will eliminate health risks such as E. coli bacterial infection getting into consumer products. The characteristic of the assessment has human operators in uncomfortable working conditions, repetitive operations, difficult handling and multi-shift operations. The automated solution for improvement in assessment and control must be protected from its environment of high temperatures, daily wash downs, electrical noise, and fire hazards.
The research study was successful in the development of an automated system with the objective of increasing the processing rate while at the same time ensuring that the product meets the USDA requirements concerning the internal temperature.

* A new, more reliable, efficient and faster temperature measuring mechanism was developed for the system.
* A more efficient way of analyzing and managing the data collected by the temperature measurement system was also developed.
* The formulation of an optimization and linear regression models were considered for the processing line of the cooked meat portions. However, the research study failed to come up with satisfactory results.
* Further research is needed