Remote feeding control by specialists at Nordlaks
Nordlaks Oppdrett AS is one of Norway’s largest and most successful privately owned fish farming companies, with fully integrated production of salmon and rainbow trout.
They are now one of the first fish farmers to implement AKVAconnect, the latest process control platform innovation from AKVA group, to centralize the control of the feeding process at their head office in Stokmarknes, Northern Norway. This means the most experienced feeding specialists in the company can ensure perfect feeding at multiple sites, while working out of a “normal office in town”.
With fish feed being the major cost of production, the goal is to focus 100% on feeding. The fish should always have the right amount of feed at the right time, says Pål Henning Kristiansen, IT Manager at Nordlaks Oppdrett.
Nordlaks Oppdrett started with AKVAconnect early 2014. When fully developed and all the installations are completed, the central operations center will remote control over 20 farm sites. The video cameras on the farm sites continuously monitor and transmit images to the control room. The operators can then monitor the status of all the cages (controlling both underwater and surface cameras) as well as all other important areas of the farms and feed barges. This frees up resources, increase efficiency and profitability as feed remains the biggest part of the production costs, says Kristiansen.
The AKVAconnect system is transmitting the data first from the cages to the feed barge, and then through a private wireless broadband that connects and provides internet access to all the farm sites. Kristiansen is impressed about how well it works. I must admit I was sceptical about how this would work over such long distances, he says.
Nordlaks will initially roll out this project until the summer of 2016. But we already have very good experience with the system, and our staff really believe this is the way to go. Video camera monitoring of the feeding process in the cages provides much better control than observing only the surface feeding activity. Now we can consistently interpret the signals from the fish in all the cages, regardless of cage sizes, depths of the nets and the ever changing weather conditions. All the sites from one control room, says Pål Henning Kristiansen.
Tore Obrestad, Technical Manager at AKVA group Nordic says that Nordlaks is the first company to do this in such a large scale. We started to develop the remote feed control module in AKVAconnect in 2012. The challenge for a larger fish farming company is to attract 20 skilled and specialized staff who can feed the fish correctly and consistently at 20 different sites. Every day of the year and according to the company’s best practice experience. With this new technology, 4-5 such specialists can feed 20 different sites from a comfortable office in town and go home to their families every day, smiles Obrestad.
Water quality parameters such as oxygen, temperature and current are the most important factors that affect the feeding in commercial fish farming. Overfeeding leads to feed waste, possible pollution of the seabed and of course poor feed conversion rate (FCR). Underfeeding also leads to poor FCR, as well as poor specific growth rate (SGR), and prolonged production time.
All of the above are critical for overall profitability. With good enough broadband you can actually sit anywhere in the world and feed your fish, explains Obrestad.
Inge Berg, CEO at Nordlaks Oppdrett AS, says that AKVAconnect provides greater biological control and higher efficiency. It is too early to conclude on profitability, but so far we are pleasantly surprised by our experiences. Once the system has been fully implemented this will be really good!
Process Control Platform designed to have control of all processes and activities at the farm. Whether this is RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture Systems) water treatment for land based farms or camera and feeding control at cage farms.
AKVAconnect is fully scalable and therefore suitable to all types of farm facilities, from the smallest local farmers to the larger multinational aquaculture corporations.
Facts about Nordlaks AS:
- Established in 1989.
- Headquarters at Stokmarknes, in Vesterålen, Northern Norway.
- Have fish farms in 12 municipalities south of Tromsø and in northern Nordland counties.
- Also produces smolts at its own facilities.
- Employing around 420 people.