Fish processing in the digital world


Marel has hosted its Whitefish ShowHow in Copenhagen for the fourth consecutive year, giving more than 150 guests from 26 countries a first-hand experience of how advances in processing technology can boost their results, using demonstrations, lectures, and virtual and augmented reality experiences.

Innovation, digitalization and the value of knowledge

In the morning session, guest speakers Dag Sletmo, Senior Vice President and Seafood Analyst at Norway's leading financial group DNB, and Pétur Hafsteinn Pálsson, CEO of Icelandic fish company Vísir hf, emphasized the accelerating impact of digitalization on fish processing.

They have the dream of putting sensors on all Norwegian fishing vessels, which would have a huge economic impact.

Dag Sletmo
Senior Vice President and Seafood Analyst at DNB

Dag Sletmo drew on the experience of the Norwegian fishing industry which is already putting sensors aboard fishing vessels in order to, for example, better understand the dynamics of the fish stocks and better manage resources.

Dag Sletmo, Senior Vice President & Seafood Analyst At DNB

Pétur Pálsson talked about the opportunities being created by digital solutions in the industry, commenting that “The seafood industry is at a bigger crossroad than we’ve ever seen.”

One reason for this is that the time it takes to process fish is now much shorter than in the past. “You have the equipment to finish production in 10 minutes – producing all kinds of product,” he said.

Pálsson also said that market demands are driving a lot of the new innovations and that the value of knowledge has increased.

You can now see the type, size, and species of fish caught before it’s landed, which helps plan processing.

Pétur Hafsteinn Pálsson
CEO of Vísir hf

Knowing what’s coming into the factory two days before it reaches the factory not only makes it easier to fill orders and fully utilize the raw material, it also helps make wild fish processing more competitive with the farmed fish industry.

As for social responsibility, Pálsson said the technological advances are not only helping people to keep their jobs, they’re also keeping those jobs in the fishing villages, and improving the types of jobs required in the industry.

Pétur Hafsteinn Pálsson, CEO Of Vísir, Iceland

Vísir has been at the technological forefront of the Icelandic fishing industry for a long time, and now has a twenty-year database of information to draw on. This helps them know how to get a certain balance of species and ratio of sizes at any given time of year, while also being important for traceability. Summing up he said, “The better the information you have, the better the decision you make.”

Sigurdur Ólason, EVP Marel Fish, emphasized how Marel sees its role amid all the technological changes.

We see ourselves as a strategic partner – with the processing knowledge, the equipment, Innova software – and it’s our role, in partnership with you, our customers, to fully realize the benefits of digitalization.

Sigurdur Ólason
EVP Marel Fish

Future-ready demonstrations and discussions

In the demo hall, equipment demonstrations were running all day, with presentations of various solutions including a FleXicut line with multiple outputs including robot packing into boxes on one side and robot packing onto trays on the other.

For the first time, demonstrations also spilled onto the second floor of the exhibition center, with an Innova Food Processing Software control room showing how Innova helps monitor and control processing with equipment in the demo hall. This is also where Innova seminars were held, aimed at showing how to take advantage of the full production control that Innova offers.

Other seminars during the afternoon covered topics such as automating quality control, optimizing retail solutions, and making the most of the FleXicut service program.

The panel discussion at the end of the day brought some lively debate on how the whitefish processing industry will move forward, with panelists addressing not only the technological advances themselves but also the way people respond differently to such changes. As Pétur Pálsson put it during the panel discussion, “The fish company must create the culture to embrace technology.”

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