VIDEO: Marel goes virtually hands free

At its third Whitefish Showhow event in Copenhagen, Marel demonstrated a full FlexiCut line that virtually eliminates the need for human hands to touch the product from trimming to packing.

Marel hosted its third Whitefish ShowHow in Copenhagen on Thursday, a now annual event bringing together processors of both wild and farmed whitefish from all over the world, for a day of demonstrations, presentations and networking.

This year the event was attended by more than 150 people from 30 countries who came to Copenhagen to see demonstrations of machinery such as the FleXicut line with packing robots.

Before the demo hall opened, three guest speakers shared their insights into various aspects of whitefish processing, with an emphasis on the future direction of the industry.

They included Jon Stefansson, head of research at Markó Partners, who spoke about how market dynamics are changing in the whitefish sector, as well as discussing consolidation and competitiveness in the industry.

Leif Inge Karlsen, founder and former director of Lerøy Hydrotech, also shared his experience and knowledge of fish farming and production, highlighting where whitefish processors can benefit from lessons already learned in the salmon processing industry to increase the quality of wild whitefish products.

Karlsen was optimistic about the future of whitefish processing, but concluded that, “the whitefish industry must increase quality and supply processing plants not just on a seasonal basis, but must also catch during other months to supply the market.”

Jorge Alonso Ygea, CMO at Scanfisk Seafood, shared Scanfisk’s experience of gaining the competitive edge by constantly applying new technology and investing in research, development and innovation.

Ygea said that being innovative is more than simply having a state-of-the-art facility, but it’s about innovation across the whole process -- from product development to achieving low energy consumption, to creating new products that use the same raw materials but introduce new cuts, new tastes, new packaging and new branding.

In the demo hall Marel demonstrated its vision to create a virtually hands-free process throughout production.

Within Marel’s customers’ reach is a process whereby pre-trim is the last place the fish is touched by human hands.

A new configuration of the FleXicut line attracted a lot of interest, especially the packing robots on the line that further automate the process, and the new pre-trim solution.

The automation of bone removal with FleXicut raises productivity and improves product handling and yield, and the new features add more automation.

The FleXicut solution at the event also included a SensorX bone detection machine, which serves as an automated quality control station.

"With a SensorX on the line, processors have a huge advantage in being able to guarantee bone-free fish,” said Einar Hlodver Sigurdsson, one of Marel’s Product Specialists in the demo hall.

At the end of the line was a new robot arm, with a grabbing device specifically engineered to pick up and pack more delicate whitefish. The design of the grabber currently has a patent pending but is expected to be in factories next year.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to walk through a computer rendered model of a modern fish processing facility in Iceland. This virtual reality experience gave a unique insight into automatic whitefish processing with a FleXicut line.

A selection of Marel’s range of further processing equipment was also featured at the event. Not only the RotoCrumb, producing breaded products, but also the ValueSpray for marinating, with the marinated product then distributed into microwavable packs from Cryovac®.

While demonstrations were running, attendees could keep track of all the data in the Innova Food Processing Software office in the demo hall.

Data is increasingly valuable in today’s hi-tech processing environment, and the ability to track and analyze data is key to fish processors being competitive.

The event showed people the data being generated by the machines in real time and how this data is key to gaining full production control.

Sigurdur Olason, managing director of Marel’s Fish Industry Center, outlined the purpose of the event to IntraFish below:

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