Cooke Aquaculture is a totally integrated company that can service the customer with complete traceability; from egg to plate. Established in 1985, the company processes and sells more than 160 million pounds of Atlantic salmon, 5 million pounds of trout, and 40 million pounds of sea bass and sea bream each year.
When Ivan Nowlan became General Manager at True North Salmon’s Atlantic Fish Specialties plant in Charlottetown in 2010, the plant’s slicing equipment was ready for an upgrade.
This led to the company investing in the most state-of-the-art technology available at the time: the Marel Geba SC 125 Vision Slicer. This increased quality dramatically, leading to increased sales and opportunities.
The following year, True North was determined to improve quality even further, as well as reduce production costs. Nowlan saw a demonstration of the I-Slice 3300 at the 2013 Salmon ShowHow, and recognized that it would be a good fit for the plant. After seeing the results of some rigorous testing, the Cooke Aquaculture management team agreed.
“The real decision came about after visiting the ShowHow and having the opportunity to trial the equipment with product and actually see what the equipment can do,” Nowlan explains.
“We invested in this equipment and technology for a few reasons: to reduce handling, for better product appearance, to increase yield, increase shelf-life and cut down on pathogen levels due to less cross contamination.”
“This technology will keep us more efficient, giving us a competitive edge, and it gives us the ability to be much more flexible in the retail market,” he adds.
True North Salmon purchased and installed the I-Slice 3300 along with a three-station check weighing and a QC inspection line. Depending on the unit size, approximately 7000-8000 units run through this line daily.
The I-Slice 3300 is designed to put salmon processors in better control of slicing and the production of fixed-weight batches. The automatic head/tail sorting results in less waste and is just one of the ways the machine is capable of reducing labor costs, and avoiding excessive product handling.
In terms of improving performance at Cooke Aquaculture, “One of the largest contributing factors is that production is up and quality is improved,” says Nowlan. “Also, the slices are centered both vertically and horizontally on the board, which gives us much better looking product, and there is less handling and trimming which helps increase yield.”
Nowlan explains that since the I-Slice 3300 was installed, they have been able to produce a much more consistent product: “There is no way that manual packing of this product can give you the consistency or efficiency that the I-Slice 3300 can.”
This high consistency and quality of the pack keeps True North Salmon’s customers happy and opens up new markets. “We can offer something a lot of others cannot at the moment,” says Nowlan.
Cooke Aquaculture saw yield improve as soon as the I-Slice 3300 was installed. “Right now it already saves us 1.5% in yield, and I believe there may be room to improve further on this,” says Nowlan. “The I-Slice 3300 immediately started to improve the bottom line.”
The I-Slice 3300 helps Cooke Aquaculture keep ahead of its competitors. “We are the first in North America to purchase the I-Slice 3300,” says Nowlan. “I can assure you that no one can offer the consistency that we can when it comes to retail packs.”