Whitefish event predicts a more automated future

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Fish processors from around the world have come together in Copenhagen today for Marel’s fifth Whitefish ShowHow.

The rise of robotics

In his welcome address, Sigurdur Ólason, EVP Marel Fish, talked about the rise in robotics and digitalization across the industry, and how this is leading to the development of new ways to make the most of the raw materials. He said it’s no coincidence that Marel has doubled its investment in software R&D in the past year alone.

Sigurdur summed up the purpose of the showhow by saying, “We’re at the forefront of the industry, and we need your input to create the future and transform the way food is processed – that’s what today is about.”

The benefits of digitalisation

Guest speaker Freyr Thórdarson, Senior Vice President DNB, addressed emerging trends and challenges in the seafood industry. Talking about the inevitability of a much more automated future, he said, “Digitalization isn’t a challenge as such, it’s just something businesses now have to do now.”

Freyr linked a number of megatrends—technological breakthroughs, demographics, urbanization, climate change, transparency and shifting economic power—to the fish processing industry, and outlined why processors need to embrace automation. He gave examples of the benefits of digitalization, including better market access, more transparent processing, and overall cost saving.

Experience smarter processing Card

Live demonstrations

Demonstrations were running throughout the day, with a concurrent seminar program in the afternoon.

Three robotic lines demonstrating various typical applications drew particular interest from guests, including a new concept in intelligent box packing that enables processors to pack into multiple box sizes simultaneously, making it unique in the industry.

Another demo highlight was the newly released SmartLine with advanced monitoring capability. The trimming flowline is for farmed fish species such as seabass, seabream and tilapia, and monitors operator performance using data integration directly to Innova.

Customers at WFSH 2019

Real-time monitoring demo

In the Innova Lab, visitors could monitor the performance of the equipment in the demo hall in real-time. They could also test their own skills at optimizing the value of the fillet, using a new ‘FleXicut patterns’ app (available in the App Store as well as Google Play). The app, launched at the event, enables users to try their hand at adjusting the FleXicut cutting pattern to achieve the highest possible fillet value. This illustrates the flexibility of cutting with two water jets and two knives, as well as the role of FleXicut in enabling processors to cut to order while maintaining high yield.

In the afternoon, the Innova Lab hosted seminars on traceability and business intelligence, while seminars in the auditorium focused on the retail segment. TraceabiliT CEO Heiða Helgadóttir was one of the speakers at this session, and she explained the value of extracting data from Innova and displaying it in a very friendly, visual way to meet consumer demand for more accessible information about food production.

Getting on board industry 4.0

The event concluded with a panel discussion, where there was general agreement that the future of the fish processing industry has robots – it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘how’ they will continue to transform the way we process fish.

The panel discussed the array of benefits that automation offers food processors. Adalsteinn Víglundsson (Innovation Program Manager at Marel) commented that “Consistency is a very big part of the motivation behind further automation – the type of consistency consumers and processors want is only possible when utilizing robots in certain processes.”

Sigurdur Ólason emphasized that the time for fish processors to get onboard Industry 4.0 is now. “Definitely jump on the wagon now – there will always be better and better solutions in the future, but in order to help influence where the industry is heading, you need to be aboard.”


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