Filleting robot for white fish

Friday, 31 January, 2014

Nordic Innovation has facilitated the development of a white fish filleting machine that locates the fish bones using X-ray technology and uses a water jet to quickly and precisely fillet the fish.

Unlike farmed salmon, white fish varies greatly in size and weight, which has made automation of the filleting process difficult especially as white fish have pin bones that are complicated and time-consuming to remove. SINTEF, Marel, Faroe Origin and Norway Seafoods have embarked on a project run by Nordic Innovation to develop a solution.

Currently 3-7% of the most valuable part of white fish is cut away unnecessarily, primarily because the bones are difficult to find and remove.

Using CP scanners at Oslo University Hospital, researchers at SINTEF ICT conducted X-ray tests to learn more about where fish bones are located so the new scanning technology could more easily find and recognise the bones.

Then, using image analysis and recognition, the new machine locates the fish bones using X-ray technology and fillets the fish. The fish is guaranteed to be boneless and there is considerably less wastage than with manual filleting.

“Norway only exports 10 to 25% of processed products - depending on whether it is white fish or farmed fish,” says Marit Aursand, research director of SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture.

“Most of our most important seafood products - such as salmon, cod and herring - receive only minimal processing or treatment before they are sent abroad. In other words, the potential for carrying out more processing in Norway is huge, and this robot could provide a breakthrough, giving us a much-needed competitive advantage over low-cost countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia,” says Aursand.

Currently, fish caught in Lofoten may travel through two other countries for filleting and packing before it returns to Norway. But this new invention would make it possible to send fresh fish direct to the shops from Norwegian facilities.

“Fish processing in Norway will soon become a thing of the past if the filleting process is not automated and made efficient and profitable. This is why this new invention is so important. It means that we can improve the quality and selection of fresh fish products, and keep the industry on Norwegian soil,” says Aursand.

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