This paper addresses the problem of optimal portioning of natural objects such as fish, meat, and other food items. Portions need to be optimized for reasons such as wastage reduction, regulatory requirements, consumer appeal, and aesthetic considerations. The paper presents an optimal approach for portion control. This involves cutting a set of objects into pieces by taking into account the density distribution of each object and grouping the pieces into package portions according to an optimality criterion. The objective of optimization is to make each portion as close as possible to the target weight of the package, within a tolerance. First, an optimization model is developed for a general formulation of the problem. Next, the portioning process is refined by incorporating realistic assumptions and constraints that are defined for the specific type of product and portioning process. The modified model is checked again for feasibility. The model refinement process is continued until a feasible optimization model that can be implemented on-line in an industrial plant is achieved. The procedure developed here is applied to an industrial fish canning process. In this application, the optimization model is refined twice to arrive at a computationally tractable implementation. A numerical example that uses real data on a batch of salmon is given to illustrate the advantages of optimal portion control; specifically, improvement in filling accuracy, associated benefits of meeting regulatory requirements, and increase in production efficiency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science