New methods reduce costs and increase efficiency
From a global perspective the fish industry has lagged far behind most other industries with regard to the introduction of information technologies. In neither the fishing nor the aquaculture sector have these advanced technologies made sufficient headway so far. Over the past few years, however, a race has begun to catch up and improve the state of the seas and the sustainability of human activities in these important areas.
Terms such as big data, image recognition and electronic surveillance software arouse hidden fears in many people. For some, they even conjure up the dark vision of an all-powerful surveillance state like the one described by George Orwell in his dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four". But this view of things overlooks the fact that these technologies – if used wisely – can be extremely useful and helpful. This may not always be immediately apparent, but without reliable data it would be virtually impossible today to work efficiently in commerce, industry and other sectors of the economy. For this reason alone the expansion of modern information technologies is unstoppable, especially since they can now also be combined with artificial intelligence.
A stainless steel strapping machine from Mosca proves itself at Mowi, Norway
The global salmon indsutry is booming. In 2017, the leading countires in this sector produced over two millions tons of the popular food fish. The increasinly competitive salmon industry is driving companies to find ways to maximixe products yield and quality. One methode of acheving this feat is through the carfeull cordination of all phases of the production proces – from spawning to packaging. Mowi, previously Marine Harvest, the world’s largest supplier of farmed Atlantic Salmon recently tested a new stainless-steel strapping machine specially developed for the food industry with the hope of increasing coordination between their phases of the production process. Integrated into a fully automated production line in Ulvan, Norway, the Mosca Evolution SoniXs MS-6-VA has been strapping Styrofoam boxes packed with fresh fish since October 2017. Thus far, everyone at Mowi Norway, and Ulvan – from management staff to machine operators – is extremely impressed by the reliable, easy-to-clean strapping machine innovation.
When fresh salmon arrives by boat at the Mowi factory on the Norwegian island of Ulvoya, the clock is on. All companies in the business of selling fresh fish understand the consequences of even being one hour behind schedule. In a fully automated operation, the fish is packed at a temperature of below 2 °C in styrofoam boxes that are filled with ice and covered with an unfastened lid. The boxes are then double strapped to secure the lid and provide protection with added stability. Afterwards, they are loaded onto pallets for transport and leave the factory on a truck. Mowi has more than 13,000 employees working at locations in 25 countries. In 2016, the company produced 381,000 tons of fresh salmon. Some of this fish is processed in-house, for example, to make breaded or marinated fish fillets.
Exact cuts, consistent slices, perfect cubes
There is increasing demand for convenience products that can be removed easily and individually from the packaging. This product form necessitates high-precision cutting and slicing machines that deliver neat, accurate results. The range of slicers for artisans and industry in the meantime ranges from powerful hand-held tools to fully automated cutting systems that can be integrated into complete processing lines.
A new era has begun in the transport and logistics sector. Instead of tables and index cards, telephone inquiries and tedious searches on maps, today one just has to take a look at the computer screen or the smartphone to find out where a delivery is at that particular moment in time. Ground-breaking innovations such as barcodes, RFID, data loggers or GPS provide a wealth of data and are also asserting themselves in the seafood industry.
My smartphone reports that my order is now on its way to me. The package is expected to arrive at the stated address between 3 and 4 pm. On top of that, a message promises me that by entering the given individual code in the search field on the courier service’s website I can track the whereabouts of the delivery. Messages like these are nowadays hardly more than everyday routine and are not rarely ignored. Probably only few people are aware of the enormous logistical achievements behind this concept, or of the effort that is required for millions of packages to be accurately recorded and correctly distributed so that they arrive punctually at their destinations. And as if this were not enough, the logistics companies also offer as an additional service an option for tracking the package...
The defrosting of frozen raw materials is an everyday routine in fish processing companies. Although it is a highly sensitive process which has an influence on raw material yield and product quality it is rarely paid the attention it deserves. In other words, there are some reserves here, particularly since the defrosting process often proves to be a “technological bottleneck” within operational production procedures.
Deepchill, the trademarked name for a product developed by the Canadian company Sunwell Technologies, is a cooling and preservation medium comprised of millions of ice micro-crystals suspended in a liquid solution to form an ice slurry. The micro-crystals surround the entire surface area of the product being cooled, giving it the ability to chill at least three times faster, and store a few degrees colder for a longer period than conventional ice. The slurry also suspends and protects the product from bruising, bacterial growth and tissue degradation.
Whether it’s herring from the North Atlantic, shrimps from Asian farms, or hake from the southernmost point of Africa, a lot of seafood products are traded frozen. Before they can be further processed they have to be thawed. In industry, special defrosters are used to do this. They are based on different technologies and for this reason alone there is no “ideal” technique that fulfils all requirements.
A manufacturer of autoclaves for the food and pharmaceutical industries Steriflow SAS is a 35-year old company whose equipment is used around the world. In 2005 Steriflow SAS licensed the Shaka technology which was invented in the UK. Using this technique the product is vigorously shaken while in the autoclave. The frequency of the shaking is 100-150 cycles per minute and this movement increased the penetration of heat into the product thereby allowing a reduction in the cycle time compared to regular autoclaves. The equipment can be used with any kind of container including cans, glass jars, pouches, and plastic trays.
3X Technology manufactures a range of processing solutions for the white fish, salmon, shrimp, and pelagic fish sectors. Founded in 1994 the company has developed from supplying the local processing industry on Iceland to selling its equipment on the international market, earning it awards for its export performance.