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Monday, May 20, 2024

Automating seafood supply

Oliver Selby reveals how automated logistics has revolutionised the international supply chain for fresh fish

In the international fresh fish supply chain, safe, efficient and fast handling of produce is essential. FANUC’s partnership with Icelandic firm Samey Robotics has helped to revolutionise this sector thanks to the creation of automated logistics and distribution centres supported by robotics. Fish can now be landed, processed and shipped to the customer within just 24 hours.

“An order can be placed in London, logged onto one of our customers’ operating systems in Iceland or another coastal country, and a robot will automatically start feeding the raw produce into the production cell,” said Kristjan Karl Adalsteinsson, Samey Robotics’ Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. “In less than an hour, it will be palletised and on its way to being shipped, without anyone having to send an email, take a phone call or make a decision as to when to start or stop the system. The whole process, from order to delivery, is fully automated.”

Samey Robotics was founded 32 years ago just south of Reykjavik in Iceland; a country renowned for its seafood. Specialising in the design, manufacture and installation of bespoke automation for the food processing industry, the company has delivered over 150 projects across 10 countries including Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the UK. At the heart of many of its tailored solutions is FANUC’s M-410 series of industrial palletising robots, renowned for their ability to handle heavy items, such as pallets of fresh produce. Samey Robotics has already purchased over 100 FANUC M-410 robots and has a further 25 on order.

A changing market

A perfect storm of rising labour costs, post-Covid digital transformation and affordable automation has helped drive a surge in industrial robot installations throughout the food and beverage industry. In fact, the number of industrial robots installed in European food processing applications is set to double in the 10 years from 2015 to 2025. Samey Robotics is experiencing this growth first hand.

The M-410 series is renowned for its ability to handle heavy items, such as pallets of fresh produce, allowing fish to land, be processed and shipped to a customer within just 24 hours

“Demand is increasing every year, especially with regard to high-throughput cells that can operate within stringent hygiene parameters,” said Kristjan. “The market is seeing the benefits that automation can bring from both a productivity and profitability point of view.”


Just-in-time supply chain

In this instance, as well as the ability to gently and rapidly handle large quantities of fresh fish, it is imperative that any robotic solutions are also robust and reliable. “Given the nature of our clients’ supply chain, the fish will spoil if production stops for any length of time,” continued Kristjan. “Some of our customers handle up to 500 tonnes of fresh produce per day, so unexpected downtime is simply not an option. The reliability of FANUC robots has been a huge factor in our joint success. We know we can trust FANUC products to deliver time and time again in harsh operating environments while handling delicate and high-margin fresh produce.”

Innovating the supply chain

Key to Samey Robotics’ success is a focus on innovation. For a number of years now, the company has been leading supply chain development in the European fish sector, with their automated approach to distribution serving as an example for other food sectors to follow. Going forward, the company’s customer base is changing as it embarks on a growth initiative through acquisition. Moving beyond Europe, it is now opening up to a global audience. At the forefront of this strategy is of course robotics and automation, and Samey Robotics is keen to spread its commitment to automated supply chains into regions that are not necessarily renowned for automation. At FANUC, we are excited to continue supporting them in this exciting phase of their journey, derisking their future business to ensure that Samey Robotics continues to be renowned for implementing solutions that facilitate the fast, safe and efficient handling of fresh fish, right across the world.

Diverse offering

To this end, we have recently begun supplying Samey Robotics with an alternative to the M-410 in a bid to improve end product handling even further: the M-2000. On the inbound supply chain direct from the boat, fresh fish is loaded directly from 460 kg totes into the fish processing equipment by the M-2000; the strongest 6-axis robot on the market, boasting a handling capacity of up to 2.3 tonnes and a maximum reach of up to 4.7m. This robotic solution changes the way food producers need to think about their onsite logistics, removing the need for specialist forklift trucks and drivers, and representing the ideal choice for gentle handling of what is a delicate food item.

For FANUC UK, supporting Samey Robotics’ innovative and forward-thinking approach to automating the fresh fish supply chain is testament to the power of a strong supplier-client relationship, which has endured for more than 20 years. “We are proud to have enjoyed such a longstanding relationship with FANUC. For us, and our customers, the reliability of their robots is priceless,” said Kristjan.

Oliver Selby is Head of Sales at FANUC UK

Oliver Selby is Head of Sales at FANUC UK

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