At Marel, we analyze current trends and anticipate processing challenges as part of staying informed of the market conditions and changes in the industries we serve. Key trends that will continue to characterize the food processing industry in coming years are the emphases on productivity and process optimization, together with demands for food safety and sustainability. We work on these issues daily by putting our extensive product know-how and processing skills to work to provide the innovative solutions our customers need.
Innovation strategically focuses on three key areas: new product development, modernization of existing product lines and creating a common core technical platform for Marel.
Marel’s development of new products creates breakthrough innovations to meet the challenges facing customers. In addition to new equipment and solutions, product upgrades and incremental additions to existing machines and systems make sure our equipment stays competitive. We also focus on modularization and standardization as drivers to maximize synergies available across the company. To that end, we are committed to collaborative innovation with our customers and partners to ensure our products add value in a way that suits their specific needs.
In 2017, we released over 20 products onto the market. Among these successful product launches are the FleXicut for fish, the ATLAS live bird handling system, AMF-I and the Thigh Fillet System for poultry.
R&D is organized around three innovation hubs, each of which has its own specific technology and industry focus while also capitalizing on the synergies between product groups. Our experts draw on their different educational backgrounds and field experience to reach the best results. Marel empowers its employees by fostering teamwork and connections between the different hubs, providing training and good facilities, tools and equipment to work with.
From the early days of the digital revolution to the current opportunities opened up by what has been labeled the fourth industrial revolution, Marel has always linked together software and automation to create innovative solutions to food processing challenges.
Marel’s high-tech approach has led the way in using intelligent automation to increase yield, throughput and quality in food processing. In poultry, our recently launched AMF-i is the first intelligent breast filleting system using automatic adaption to breast cap size, resulting in higher yield, capacity and product quality.
Our sophisticated sorting algorithms have been controlling our graders for decades, while the latest 3D laser vision systems work with advanced software to calculate the best cutting patterns for our automatic portioning systems. Technology is, however, advancing at lightning speed with rising computing power a major catalyst. Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will further transform our industry in the future. In 2017, Marel started to build up the competencies needed to design and integrate use of these technologies in our products.
Marel is known for applying its technology across industries. In 2017, we continued to leverage our strong innovation investments in one field to successfully develop solutions for other protein product groups, across processes and geographies. SensorX and the RoboBatcher are two great examples of products that were developed for one industry but have been successfully adapted for all of Marel’s industries.
We will continue to realize the synergies available to a company of our scale and scope, delivering innovative products for our customers and creating further growth opportunities. In particular, major opportunities lie in the secondary and further processing parts of the value chain, e.g. portioning, batching, weighing and marinating, where the processing steps become more homogenous across industries.