As professor William J. Wepfer, of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology puts things in his ‘Message from the School Chair’
“Today’s mechanical engineers might search the ocean with an underwater observation manipulator; work on developing systems to program robots for manufacturing; or build a prototype of an electric car or develop computer systems for automobiles.”
But that’s by no means a complete list of activities for mechanical engineers at Georgia Tech.. They might, for example, also work on systems for intelligent automated transfer of live objects onto shackle lines.
Professor Kok-Meng Lee, (who heads the Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics Research Laboratory at the school) began developing just such a system back in 1998 – as a result of which he was granted a US patent in 2003:
“The system and method include introducing a plurality of live objects to a singulator. The singulator isolates the individual live objects and places them in a pallet on a conveyor. The system may detect and remove cadavers from amongst the live objects. The conveyor leads the live objects to a grasper. The grasper positions the legs of the live objects so that a shackler can secure the legs of the live objects with a shackle. The live objects and the shackle are then inverted and passed on to a shackle line. The shackle line may be a kill line buffer or a kill line.“
For the purposes of the invention, the ‘live objects’ mentioned above would preferably be chickens.
As part of the engineering development scheme, the chickens were mathematically modelled as an idealised ellipsoid, with the equation describing the motion of the chicken in the x direction through the rubber-fingered singulator as :
“It should be noted, however, that when the chicken goes through the singulator backward the resistance is much greater due to the chicken flapping its wings.”
An extensive description of the project to develop a system for intelligent automated transfer of live birds to a shackle line can be found here. ( Caution: the .pdf features graphic photos which some bird lovers may find disturbing.)
Further reading :
• ‘Automated shackling: how close is it?’ A. Bruce Webster and Kok-Meng Lee, Poultry International, Vol. 42, Number 4, April 2003, pp.28- 36. ( Caution: as above)
• And the entire project is described here: