In the company’s DNA to optimise processing

Aslak Berge

More and more advanced technology can unknot challenges in salmon processing and logistics as well as for the harvest vessel “Norwegian Gannet”.

Infrared scanners read shapes and volumes on fillets. Robots sort salmon portions or load and unload fish boxes. In a business climate characterised by new thinking, Marel is more confident in its strategy than ever: “We are an innovation leader,” said Sigurdur Ólason, CEO of Marel.

“That’s why we’ve come with more scanners and robots than ever. That is why we invest heavily in our Innova software,” said sales operations director Lars Jøker.

“When Marel was established in 1983, it was important to access data. It has therefore been in the company’s DNA to optimise processing. I have always said that Marel was established in the fourth industrial revolution,” said Ólason.

“Data has always been in our principles for how we are driven: What we can put in and what we get out of it,” added marketing director Stella Björg Kristinsdóttir.

Stimulates innovation
SalmonBusiness meet the Marel team during the company’s annual combined trade fair and conference near Kastrup airport outside Copenhagen, Denmark. Here, the Icelandic equipment supplier is presenting their latest products in the search for contracts to well over 400 aquaculture operators.

Read more: Aquaculture pioneer Arturo Clément: “Chile will grow at that speed for the next five to six years”

High cash flow in the salmon industry is stimulating innovation and new investments, not least in the processing industry. The frequently mentioned harvest vessel “Norwegian Gannet”, various kinds of harvest vessels and the robotisation of conventional land-based harvest plants show both the ability and a willingness to think new. But which of the harvesting methods is the future winner?

“I think this is a big question mark,” said sales director Diego Langes. “There is daily news about this. People follow everyday what is happening in Hirtshals and Hav Line,’ Jøker chipped in.

Interesting concept
“I think there will be more harvest vessels. It is a very interesting concept,” said Spaniard Langes.

Are other countries coming?

“As far as I know, it is only in Norway. The Norwegians are pioneers. They are first movers,” said Kristinsdóttir.

L-R Lars Jøker and Diego Langes PHOTO Trine Forsland

“I think it depends on the sites. We look at transfer cost – and whether it is a shorter time for the market by this method,” noted Ólason. “If you are able to disrupt the business model, there are great opportunities.”

Problem solver
So far political bottlenecks threaten to stop “Norwegian Gannet”. The Marel team is following the process closely, not least since it was they who delivered the grading system to the Sekkingstad-owned plant that receives the fish in Hirtshals.

When it comes to “Norwegian Gannet’s” challenges with production fish; is it possible to correct, specifically sort and filleting, in the open sea?

“We have worked with trawlers before, so, yes, it can be done. It is possible to do so. But this is a legal case for the Norwegian Ministry. We’ll see what happens. You probably know more about what is happening in Norwegian law than we do,” said Jøker.

“Give them a filleting machine and a quality grade. Run the fish through the filleting machine and the problem is solved. End of story,” he added.


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