This application has allowed Insuiña have at their fingertips all the data they need regarding the status of their tanks for breeding and feeding of marine species. This has made it easier for managers and operators to make optimal decisions based on objective data, which has improved the productivity of their plants, helped standardize their work processes and allowed them to meet the legal traceability requirements.
“Thanks to the new application, we can now control the status and needs of each batch of fish that grows in our plants: if they feed well, if they grow at the proper pace, if they suffer from any disease… To have all this data together gives us a global vision that we did not 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 requires controlling many factors, as it involves working with living beings that need specific care: feeding, reproduction, and treatment of diseases; among others. This was relatively simple for Insuiña when it began, having a small number of tanks located in a single plant. They were able to maintain sufficient control by means of manual operations and spreadsheets. However, the expansion experienced by this sector in Galicia and Portugal since the late 1990s increased the volume of production considerably, making this method of control no longer viable efficiently. As a sample of this expansion, the following graph shows the increase experienced in sales of turbot, which rose 35-fold between 2003 and 2013:
Primarily, it is important bear in mind that the main objective in this sector is to have the maximum growth of fish in the shortest possible time. To do this it is essential to observe which foods are the most suitable for each species, provide them periodically, and control the temperature of the water; among other operations. Although Insuiña had already automated certain tasks, their systems were not integrated and most of the data was collected manually. This made it impossible to find out what was the best way to work, since obtaining reports was laborious, slow and offered unhelpful or incomplete data. In short, those in charge of managing production did not have the necessary tools to know what was happening in the plants, which also had different work procedures between them.
But the problems ceased to be something just internal European legislation on the traceability of products was put in to force. To investigate when problems arise, the authorities obliged companies to implement systems that would allow them to know exactly what had happened with each batch of fish throughout the production cycle.
In view of the existing needs and the uniqueness of the sector, the Insuiña managers decided to request the help of Imatia to jointly develop a solution that would allow them to be more efficient and to comply with the new regulations. This was possible thanks to the know-how provided by Insuiña, who knew exactly what they needed to do their job better. They simply needed a technically partner to make it possible.
An application was implemented that now allows Insuiña to see everything that happens in each one of the tanks of the plant, showing on screen all the data that the operators need to control the production, and is useable with mobile devices. In turn, the managers of the company have access to the data of all the plants in real time. This was achieved by integrating the many systems with which the company works: food carts and robots, sorters, and processing systems; to name a few.
The implementation of this solution mainly helped in the improvement of the productivity in Insuiña. On the one hand, productivity was improved due to the automation of many tasks, which reduced the effort and cost associated with them. However, no less important was the improvement that was obtained regarding the ability to access reliable data quickly, which helps managers to make better decisions based on objective data, which are then used to optimize production or to solve more specific problems.
Another consequence is that by having all the plants use the same application, the work procedures were standardised across plants. This reduced learning times, facilitated the movement of workers between posts or plants, and simplified the possibility of opening new plants in the future. Finally, the requirements of traceability were resolved, which not only permitted complicity with the law, but also the ability to perform all kinds of internal and external audits.
Insuiña, S.L. is a company belonging to the Nueva Pescanova group, founded in the 80s in O Grove (Pontevedra). It has more than 170 workers distributed among its four production centres in the northwest of the peninsula.
Within the aquaculture sector, Insuiña is specialized in the breeding and feeding of turbot, of which it produces 3,000 tons per year. It is also a company focused on R&D, as evidenced by its participation in more than 30 projects so far.