JBS sees robotics as a way to save on labor costs in the future.

SAO PAULO, Brazil – JBS SA owns a 50 percent share in Dunedin, New Zealand-based Scott Technology Ltd., but don’t expect automation to take over the company’s processing plants any time soon.

Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, told analysts in a recent earnings call the investment in Scott has been strategically and financially beneficial to the company.

“The good news is it’s a public-traded company and the shares on this year almost doubled the value,” Nogueira said, “but we bought this stake of 50 percent in Scott for strategic reasons.

“They have 300 engineers. The company is very focused and very strong in the combination of image and robotics and we have a production team inside of JBS that works with the team in Scott to define the priorities that we should put these 300 engineers to look and to bring efficiency to.”

Scott provides equipment for automated slaughter, boning, packaging and materials handling in meat and poultry plants. The company leads the industry in boning automation in lamb operations. Nogueira said that JBS currently operates one plant that applies Scott’s robotics for lamb boning, and another facility that will be operational at the end of the year.

“We’ll have technology, specific technology, that’s more on the safe side that we are implementing in several JBS plants, but this is a long-term view and a long-term transformation for our business,” he noted.

In addition to lamb, Scott has a growing presence in beef boning operations in addition to packaging automation, palletizing and materials handling across all species. So, Nogueira explained, JBS is looking to Scott and its 300 engineers to build systems and solutions that can be applied to several different plants with the goal of realizing efficiencies and cost-savings.

“Most important — the most important focus will be saving labor as labor becomes a big issue in US [and] in Australia, so we should work with the Scott team to save labor inside of the JBS plants, but this is long-term,” Nogueira said. “We are not going to see quarter-by-quarter an important evolution, it is a long-term view of solutions that we can bring for JBS.”