This application has allowed Insuiña to instantly obtain all the data they need about the status of their marine species rearing and fattening systems. This has allowed its managers and operators to optimize their decision making process and base it on objective data, improving the productivity of their plants, contributing to the normalization of their work processes and allowing them to meet the traceability requirements demanded by law.
“Thanks to the new application, now we can control the state and needs of each batch of fish that is reared in our plants: if they are well fed, if they grow at an appropriate pace, if they suffer any disease… Being able to have all this data together gives us a global vision that we didn’t have before and that now allows us to act more precisely to improve our results”. Carlos Valtierra, CFO of Insuiña, S.L.
PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED
Aquaculture implies controlling many factors, since it requires working with living beings that need certain cares: feeding, reproduction or disease treatment, amongst others. This was fairly easy for Insuiña in its beginnings, when it had a small number of tanks localized in a single plant, being able to maintain enough control by use of manual operations and spreadsheets. However, the expansion lived by this sector in Galicia and Portugal in the end of the decade of the 90’s, provoked a significant increase in the volume of production that lead them to install increasingly bigger plants around the world, causing this manual control method to not be compatible with reaching maximum efficiency. As a demonstration of this expansion, in the next graph we can observe the increase experimented in the case of the turbot, whose sales between 2003 and 2013 were multiplied by 35:
First of all, it should be taken into account that the main objective in this sector is to sustainably maximize the growth of the fish or seafood (biomass) in as short a time as possible. For this purpose, it is essential to observe what type of feed is the most suitable for each species and batch during its growth, provide the right amount of food at the right moment, control the water temperature, etc. And although at Insuiña certain tasks were already automated, their systems weren’t integrated and most of the data collection and decision making was done manually, requiring personnel with a very high level of expertise to be present at plants that are usually on remote locations. This made it impossible to discover what was the optimal working method, since obtaining reports was laborious, slow and offered incomplete data that was not really useful. In essence, the people responsible for managing production didn’t have the tools they needed to know what was really happening and had enormous difficulties unifying working procedures and criteria.
But the problems stopped being something just internal when a new European regulation related to product traceability appeared. The authorities, to be able to react to any problem, required companies to implement systems that would allow them to know exactly what had happened with each batch of fish over the production cycle.
Aware of existing needs and singularity of the sector, the managers at Insuiña decided to request Imatia’s help to jointly develop a solution that would allow them to be more efficient and comply with the new regulations. This was possible thanks to the know-how provided by Insuiña, that knew exactly what they needed to improve their work; and all they needed was a trustful technology partner that could make it possible.
An new application was developed that allowed the company to know everything that happens in each of the tanks of all their plants, displaying all the data that the operators need to control production in a single screen, even from their smartphones. This application works over the Internet so the company’s central managers also have real time access to this information for all of the company’s plants, allowing them to obtain an aggregated view of their stock and compare the performance between plants. This was achieved by integrating many of the systems used at the different plants: feeding carts and trolleys, sorters, elaboration systems, etc.
The implementation of this solution mostly allowed improving Insuiña’s productivity. On one side, thanks to the automation of many tasks, this reduced the effort and additional costs associated to them. But not less important was the improvement that implied being able to obtain reliable data and in a short time, which helps the company’s managers make better data-driven decisions in every instance, that are used to optimize production or to solve any specific problem.
Another consequence was the normalization of work, achieved by having all the plants using the same application. Thus training times were reduced, workers’ movements between positions or plants were facilitated, and even the process of opening new plants was simplified. Lastly, traceability needs were met, and this not only allowed complying with the law, but also being able to make all kinds of internal or external audits.
Insuiña S.L. is a company that belongs Nueva Pescanova group, founded in the decade of the 80’s in O Grove (Pontevedra). It has more than 170 workers allocated in their four production centers in the northwest of the peninsula.
Within the aquaculture sector, Insuiña is specialized in the rearing and fattening of turbot, of what it produces 3000 tons a year. It is also very active in the field of R&D, as shown by their participation in more than 30 projects until the moment.