A new Marel grading and packing solution has revolutionized the salmon processor
Business is booming for farmed salmon processors in the Eastfjords of Iceland, and automating the packing and grading with Marel solutions combined with Innova software has opened up Búlandstindur to new and exciting opportunities.
Búlandstindur, located in the east of Iceland in Djúpavogi, is one of few in Iceland that process both whitefish and farmed salmon. By the end of 2020, the company had launched a new Marel solution for their farmed salmon, processing 90-120 tonnes per day and the capacity to process 20 boxes per minute. According to Elís Grétarsson, General Manager at Búlandstindur, they expect 18-20 thousand tons to pass through their factory in 2021.
Automation is key
In the morning, the salmon is fed into the plant from a well boat. The fish is gutted, chilled to -1°c, graded by size and automatically packed into boxes. The box then travels on a conveyor to be weighed, labeled, iced, and closed before entering a cooler where robots place it on pallets according to species.
Elís says that this new process solution has revolutionized the factory, especially by automating grading and packing. “We grade the salmon into different size categories, but mostly, the size is similar or around 5kg. The biggest can weigh up to 10kg,” says Elís.
The future is bright and full of opportunities
“With this new processing line, the toughest and most monotonous jobs in salmon have been eliminated, and jobs have developed into monitoring the processing and system”, says Elís. Innova, Marel's powerful production control software, is behind the processing line offering traceability. Elís mentions that as processing in farming increases and stabilizes, new opportunities will arise to take the next steps.
“The future is bright and full of opportunities, which we intend to utilize. I envision that we will extend our salmon processing capabilities in the future—skinning, portioning and packing—as we do in our whitefish processing. A large portion of the Icelandic farmed fish from Iceland is shipped to another processing factory abroad that we can envision doing here in the future. Full line processing with profitability is part of our future vision,” says Elís.
Aquaculture has changed everything
The processing halls for farmed salmon and whitefish are separated at Búlandstindur, and Elís adds that these operations go well together. “We processed 1,800 tons of cod and around 10,000 tons of farmed salmon last year. There are times when we are very busy in both, but so far it has been very successful”, says Elís. In total, 75 employees work in fishing and processing at Búlandstindur, making it the largest employer in the town of Djúpavogur. “Farmed fish have changed everything for us and the area. Everywhere in the Eastfjords, business has been booming.”