Camanchaca improves efficiency and adaptability

Leading Chilean salmon producer Salmones Camanchaca steps into the future with a Marel partnership

Camanchaca Salmon Processing Lines 2

Camanchaca adopts automation and digitalization to support their commitment to a sustainable future in salmon processing.

In 2016, Chilean seafood processor Salmones Camanchaca SA made the strategic decision to automate their fish processing facilities in Tomé, Del Biobio. For the past seven years, Marel and Salmones Camanchaca have been working together to upgrade their facilities with integrated solutions that support their business strategy to supply sustainable, affordable seafood to the global market.

Jorge Fernández García, Regional Manager of Salmones Camanchaca

Salmones Camanchaca is one of the founding companies of the Chilean salmon industry with over 50 years’ experience exporting fish and shellfish to more than 50 countries worldwide. Their business model focuses on value-added products with several freshwater fish farms, aqua cultural concessions for cultivation in the sea, and two processing facilities. They produce around 50 to 60,000 tons annually and will scale to around 70,000 tons annually over the next few years.

Situated along the Chilean coast, all Camanchaca operations are committed to the environment and the community where they cultivate, process, and market products from species such as Atlantic salmon and Coho salmon.

Building a complete value chain

Over the past 30 years, Camanchaca’s focus has been on building a complete value chain—from breeding genetics to ocean cultivation, from primary and secondary processing to a strong market presence. “We are focused on integrating the production process, value chain and the customer,” says Jorge Fernández García, President of Salmones Camanchaca. To achieve this goal, they required a processing reorientation to allow production of both fresh and frozen whole fish and fillets.

Camanchaca supplies the retail and food service industries, distributes their own brands and works with third parties to develop frozen products. In addition to their product offerings, their business model includes representation within markets they export to, including the United States, Mexico, Japan, China, and across Europe - an important strategy as the Chilean industry exports practically 100% of its production,” García says.

Camanchaca Processing Plant

Challenges and solutions

Consumer demand is always evolving and García understands Camanchaca must continue to improve and grow to remain leaders in the salmon industry. When they decided to automate their salmon processing facilities, Camanchaca wanted to invest in processing solutions that were flexible and adaptable enough to manage their current and future needs.

Since the beginning of their partnership with Marel in 2016, Camanchaca has redesigned their processing lines efficiently and effectively with comprehensive solutions. By identifying their various challenges, a master plan was developed that ensured the facility addressed their specific needs including capabilities, performance, solutions, and growth. García stresses doing more with less is the common goal and using Marel’s most advanced equipment has ensured more efficient fish processing in Camanchaca. “I liked Marel’s approach: to look for a specific solution for us. They studied our layout, spaces, model, and looked at how Marel technology and engineering could help find the best solutions to the challenges we had set for ourselves.”

Mutual interests solidified a lasting partnership

A shared commitment to transforming fish processing, a drive to solve industry-specific challenges, and the proximity of Marel’s regional team in Latin America met Camanchaca’s requirements when looking for a strategic partner to provide processing solutions. “All these new investments we have made with Marel have been oriented to producing fresh and frozen whole fish and fillets. They allow us to position ourselves towards commercial markets and, ultimately, work at the consumer level.” The new automated facility ensures Camanchaca can meet customer demands with sustainable methods. “The cabilities of Marel’s solutions from traceability to automation to software, have helped us build a solid foundation and created a long-lasting partnership,” García says.

Camanchaca Salmon Processing Lines

Automation begins

The first installation in the new line was the Filleting Machine MS 2730 which uses an automatic size adjustment feature to improve throughput and yield. With the ability to accurately fillet fish between 1.5 kg and 8 kg, the MS 2730 provided Camanchaca with the flexibility to process a wide range of fish species. Jorge Vergara González, Regional Manager of Salmones Camanchaca, remembers the introduction of the new technology as an adjustment but says today, "The results are really satisfactory. Our lines are approximately 15-20% faster than the industry average."  

Soon to follow were two complete filleting lines: quality control system, desliming unit, filleting line, trimming, dynamic scales, portioner, pinbone remover and skinning unit, and secondary processing line.

More than 50% of the salmon Salmones Camanchaca processes is transformed into a large variety of fresh and frozen portions for the food service and retail markets. When choosing a portioning solution Salmones Camanchaca wanted a machine with flexibility and accuracy, the I-Cut 130 Portion Cutter was up to the task. "It allows us to make angled cuts and has a crucial precision in terms of weight and yield to maximize the efficiency of the portion in the fillet," says Vergara. The I-Cut 130 can make up to 1,000 cuts per minute and be easily programmed to various cut patterns, helping Salmones Camanchaca meet their current SKU requirements and ensuring adaptability for future demands. 

Overweight packs are a thing of the past

The new customized packing line from Marel has reduced overweight giveaway in fillets by approximately 30% compared to the historical data from Salmones Camanchaca's previous packing line. The Custom Grader is fully integrated with automated conveyor belts, dynamic scales, barcode scanners and packaging stations, providing a seamless product flow. It reduces reliance on labor and improves line performance. As happy as Vergara is with the result of the whole packing line, he finds the Portion Grader the most exciting part. "It is a wonderful machine, one of the most interesting that I have had to implement. The overweight giveaway is over 60% lower and that has brought us great economic returns in the order of two to 2.5 million dollars [USD] a year." 

Digital transformation

In 2020 Salmones Camanchaca began implementing Marel’s software solutions into their primary and secondary processing lines. "Innova software has been fundamental to our digital transformation strategy. It has enabled us to capture data and perform real-time analysis of process information in both plants, primary and secondary," said Manuel Arriagada Ossa, General Manager of Salmones Camanchaca. Innova software enables operators to make real-time data-driven decisions to improve line efficiency. This ability to see and avoid problems quickly works in tandem with the advanced precision of the equipment to maximize processing efficiency and profitability.

Marel has been a strategic supplier for Salmones Camanchaca. We have had a long-standing relationship and it has allowed us to increase our throughput and to stay on track to achieve our strategic objectives

Manuel Arriagada Ossa
General Manager of Salmones Camanchaca

A sustainable future

Marel and Salmones Camanchaca share a vision of providing affordable, high-quality seafood products sustainably. Fernández believes, "the world requires us to reduce energy consumption, water consumption, reduce packaging materials, be more efficient in these aspects and also more efficient in the use of labor." He sees the installation of Marel's processing solutions in Salmones Camanchaca's facilities as a "move towards greater development of the industry in all these aspects. Labor, environmental and social."

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