Customer story

Smart sorting whole mackerel

13 Jan 2016

The new Marel SmartLine grading application works wonders for Icelandic pelagic processor Isfelagid by allowing them to grade out the higher priced whole mackerel from their catch.

Isfelagid, one of Iceland’s largest pelagic fish processors, needed a simple, fast, and accurate system to separate out the most valuable part of their mackerel catch. Having worked with Marel over the years both in whitefish and pelagic applications, Isfelagid decided to try out the company’s new generation SmartLine Graders, which have proven to be as flexible as they are cost-effective and efficient.

With a unique hygienic design, the SmartLine Graders deliver accurate batches quickly and efficiently. The graders are designed to sort and batch fish pieces and fillets, as well as meat and poultry products. In this case, they were installed to grade whole mackerel – a new but successful application that had not been done before.

Six-Grader System with a Small Footprint

“We needed a reliable, simple grading system that could separate the high value large mackerel from the regular product,” says Bjorn Brimar Hakonarson, Production Manager at the Isfelagid production plant in the Westman Islands. “We also needed to get a full system into a small space, so the small footprint suited us well. Initially we installed four SmartLine graders to keep up with our newly increased freezing capacity. We then added two more after seeing how well the first four operated.”

New Process – Increased Yield

Isfelagid uses traditional pelagic grading to sort the catch into the de-headers to get the best yield from de-heading. “However, the traditional pelagic graders are not designed to achieve the tight grading specs we seek for our customers, so we run the catch through the new SmartLine Graders after de-heading to get the precise weight grading we require,” says Hakonarson. “The new system is accurate, and easy to configure to the exact specs we need.”

The mackerel catch generally ranges in weight from 200g to 800g, with the largest percentage being 300g-600g. The SmartLine system at Isfelagid currently grades the largest mackerel at 50g intervals into five different size categories. “We’ve been more than able to process everything we’ve needed with the new setup,” says Hakonarson. “There was no way we could achieve that with the traditional graders alone.”

The Right Size for a Better Price

The new graders enable Isfelagid to get precise batches of the more valuable sized mackerel in their catch. “There is more to be gained by size and weight grading in mackerel than other pelagic species,” Hakonarson explains.

We’ve achieved all our goals with the installation of the SmartLine Graders. Being able to sort out the higher priced mackerel has translated into increased yield and a better market value for our product.

– Bjorn Brimar Hakonarson, Production Manager at Isfelagid

Hygienic Design

The SmartLine Grader can be stripped down and reassembled in seconds. Its unique open frame design and minimal horizontal surfaces ensure maximum hygiene during high-pressure wash-downs. The open frame design also enables complete serviceability access.

“They are ingeniously designed,” says Hakonarson. “It’s remarkably easy to clean these graders. They always finish cleaning the SmartLine Graders way before anything else in our production hall. There are no nooks and crannies for things to get stuck in. It’s very simple to lift the belts up and the system keeps them up while you clean them. Two easy steps and it’s done.”

Seamless Software Integration

The SmartLine features a comprehensive, real-time reporting function that gives the operator a complete overview of the production process. The six graders at Isfelagid are all connected by the Innova software. “This is very convenient for us. Everything is integrated into our computer system and I run them like a single unit,” explains Hakonarson. “I can change the settings on all of them with a single input in Innova. I get reports on anything I need and it’s user-friendly and efficient.”

Isfelagid has installed Marel’s Innova software throughout the company. “We also use Innova to control the pelagic scales, the weight grading, and our entire quality management system,” says Hakonarson. “Everything is accessible in real time; I can monitor the entire process and be on top of what is going on at all times. It’s a tool that really makes my life easier and the process more efficient as a whole.”

More information on the Marel SmartLine Grader

More information about Marel grading & batching equipment