Fish processors around the world are embracing ‘smart factory’ technologies to increase productivity and enhance output. But how smart is your factory? Where could you improve operations? When it comes to the adoption of new technology, however simple or advanced, it’s essential to understand where you’re at before you decide where you’re going.

Many processors are already realizing the benefits of Industry 4.0, and those that delay taking a data-driven approach risk being left behind. To that end, Marel has created a self-assessment tool that helps factories understand their current capabilities and provides actionable tips on how to optimize your operations and make the most of trends and technologies shaping Industry 4.0.

The audit, which is free and takes roughly five minutes to complete, focuses on the five pillars of smart factories:
Can you implement changes in real time?
Can you automate production?
Can you use tech to manage and monitor food safety compliance?
Do you benefit from predictive maintenance alerts?
Can you use data to improve production processes?


Transformations don’t happen overnight

Robotics, progressive software and other Industry 4.0 advances are reshaping the seafood landscape as we know it but a broader, lasting, industry-wide transformation hinges on proper integration.

As Kurt Nielsen, Director for Robot Technology at the Danish Technological Institute, said at the recent Salmon ShowHow: “Robots are not a replacement of humans, but a tool to improve the productivity of people. It’s about collaborative technologies.”

In addition to the smart factory audit, Marel offers advice and a wide variety of other resources designed to guide businesses through their transition and reap the rewards of Industry 4.0.

The business case for new technology

Diego Lages, Sales Director for Marel’s fish division, sees how factories of all sizes, in all regions of the world, are changing. “We work closely with company owners and other decision makers to build a business case for smart factory transformation,” he explains.

“We’re here to accompany businesses shoulder-to-shoulder on this journey— from strategy and transformation, to implementation and future evolution.”

Photo: Marel

In the past year alone, there has been a significant rise in automation as more and more factories recognize the potential of advanced software and robotics.

A new intelligent trimming line, for example, now offers whitefish processors better handling and higher production value with real-time performance monitoring and advanced yield management software.

“The new StreamLine offers us control in real time of the filleting process,” says Emilio Salas García, Production Manager at the Culmarex factory in Águilas, Spain. “We don’t have to wait to the end of the production to know what has happened during the day. Additionally, it offers us performance data of each operator.”

Further north, Bremnes Seashore in Norway has been running a successful trial of automatic pinbone removal for pre-rigor salmon with a Marel solution designed to raise the quality of salmon products and optimize fillet utilization while reducing labor costs.

Arvid Husa, Production Developer at Bremnes, reports that the machine has saved on labor costs even more than anticipated, and throughput is up by 10 to 15%. “I think this would double the throughput for many factories,” he says.

Connectivity starts with you

Connectivity is the cornerstone of the smart factory and one of its most crucial sources of value. Connected operators can improve their performance with greater ease and are more motivated to do so. Connected equipment can respond to real-time changes in production and be serviced proactively to avoid downtime. Outside the factory walls, a connected supply chain helps processors adjust to new information and modify manufacturing priorities.

Photo: Marel

To generate the data necessary to make real-time decisions, modern fish factories need underlying processes and materials to be linked. Only then will comparative, real-time data help improve and control key performance indicators including efficiency, product quality and production speed.

Unlike shiny new machines, the benefits of data control are, for many, far more difficult to grasp, which is why Marel thinks of its Innova software in terms of specific personas: what data a CEO or CFO needs, for example, versus what a floor manager needs in order to optimize results.

The former requires data that enables real-time collaboration with suppliers and customers and helps lower handling and logistics costs. Whereas a floor manager is more interested in the data that tells them what equipment will need servicing soon, and whether operators need additional training.

If you’re looking for ways to better integrate your physical and data infrastructures, taking Marel’s smart factory audit is a great place to start. If you need further advice or would like to book a consultation with a real human, don’t hesitate to get in touch!