Marel (Iceland) - Press Release: FISK Seafood and Marel reached an agreement last year for FISK Seafood‘s purchase of a new white-fish production line from Marel, set to be operational by end of summer 2020. We recently headed to Sauðárkrókur in Iceland and met up with Ásmundur Baldvinsson, production manager at FISK Seafood, who is overseeing the final stages of installation. We discussed the operation around which the new equipment is designed and the reasons for investing in new technology at this point in time.
Technological advancement is key at FISK Seafood:
Good managers must have a clear vision for future opportunities and Ásmundur didn‘t hesitate when asked what he would like to see more of in the industry, moving forward. „More technology! So much has been revealed to us in the recent months and years as to why we need to be on our toes regarding food production technology, both to improve production quality and as importantly, the working environment of employees.“
FISK Seafood is one of Iceland‘s largest fisheries with operations spanning the whole value chain, from fishing and aquaculture to processing, sales and export. Their story, like Marel‘s story, is one of innovation in food processing with the sustainable harvesting of limited resources as the goal - around which our two companies have built a fruitful partnership.
FISK Seafood‘s spacious, first-class facility in Sauðárkrókur employs 70 people and is obviously a place of great ambition. Fresh catch, cod and pollock, is cut into whole fillets, lightly salted and frozen before being exported to mainland Europe where it is a sought-after delicacy in the best hotels and restaurants.
Increased throughput, precision and better flow the aim of the new line:
The new line being specifically tailored for processing whole fillets, which comes with clear upsides.
„This line will be gentler on the fillets“ says Ásmundur as he discusses the product gates, designed and sized to pass through even the biggest fillets with minimal contact. The line is also designed to increase throughput and sort the fillets into a higher number of size categories than before, which improves flow and organization.
„We should be able to sort all the fillets before freezing with the new system instead of having to sort some of them after freezing as it stands today“ Ásmundur adds, but the freezing of similar sized fillets is better for the product, shortens average freezing times and saves energy.
The operation processes 11.000 tons annually which is a doubling compared to eight years ago, a success in which Marel equipment and software have played an important role.
The new line will have same number of workstations as today despite plans for considerable production increase. More volume is expected to increase overall freezing time but with more automation and improved flow in the earlier stages of production, work hours can be better utilized and production increased with the same amount of people.
The primary processing part of the system is comprised of equipment from Curio and Marel and has three de-headers and two filleting machines from Curio which follow the most rigorous safety standards.
Marel and Curio combined forces in October 2019 when Marel signed a deal to acquire a 50% stake in Curio ehf, along with an option to acquire the remaining 50% of shares in four years.
Safety and employee working conditions paramount:
The well-being of employees in the food industry is ingrained in Marel‘s vision and design philosophy and FISK Seafood lives by the same principles. The new line is an example of this and comes with several upgrades. The workstations, designed with the best in ergonomics in mind, are more spacious than before and now have adjustable, cushioned pillars that can provide lower back support and increased flexibility of posture during work. Light panels have LED bulbs as opposed to fluoride bulbs previously which don‘t pass heat to the product but are also gentler on employee‘s eyes during trimming. Cleaning of workstations will be easier and better with our open space design, which ensures water can easily pass through without remaining static on horizontal surfaces. Visual information flow on monitors at each workstation simplifies decision-making and action.
Value and sustainability – „Innova is our main production software“:
Quality control at FISK Seafood is fully executed with the Innova software from Marel, which will also keep track of all the production data. This will save time and paper as well as making all information available in one place, in real-time, bringing all types of added value.
Virtual reality a helpful part of a co-operative design process:
Innovation in partnership with our customers is a key element of the Marel Vision, so they can produce affordable quality food with traceability and sustainability at the forefront. Informed feedback from our customers at all stages of the design process ensures that solutions are tailored to their needs and expectations. Marel‘s innovation team set the new line up as a virtual reality simulation, and placed it in a virtual replica of the facility in Sauðárkrókur. This gives anyone who steps inside a much more precise feel for the space complete with new equipment and often allows us to react sooner to suggested changes earlier in the process, minimizing delays and cost.
Ásmundur told us it had been good to be able to show the employees the new work environment in this way and that useful suggestions had come from it.
We would like to wrap up by wishing the people at FISK Seafood all the best at an exciting milestone and we thank Ásmundur for taking the time to see us.
Picture 1 Caption:
Þórarinn Kristjánsson Account Sales Manager, Marel and Ásmundur Baldvinsson Production Manager, FISK Seafood, after signing the contract in 2019.
Picture 2 Caption:
Ásmundur Baldvinsson production manager, FISK Seafood and Valdimar Gunnar Sigurðsson, Industry Sales Manager, Marel checking the status of the installation.
Picture 4 Caption:
Not only was it possible to walk around the space but also fly above it for a literal overview (currently only available in virtual reality).