Merlus, which operates a state-of-the-art facility in Walvis Bay, Namibia, specialises in the re-processing and packaging of IQF hake. However, the business felt that it needed cutting edge control system and processing equipment in order to maintain production flexibility.
In addition, the company wanted a system that allows for the traceability of every product leaving the factory in order to meet strict import requirements of markets such as the EU and the USA.
The production control system from Scanvaegt comprises a system of interlinked electronic scales that is activated as soon as the raw material enters the factory. Information such as the fishing vessel, weight and type of fish at each pallet are registered by a Scanvaegt scale.
This information is printed on a label, attached to each pallet and then simultaneously sent to the company's financial department. The weighing is repeated once the product is processed and packaged, so that the company has full control over the fish that enters and leaves the plant.
Scanvaegt claims that the control system ensures easy stocktaking and the extraction of information about production capacity and product yields, as well as allows the company to track the source and destination of its products.
The traceability project at Merlus is of great importance not only to the future feasibility of the company, but also the international reputation of Namibia as a reliable and stable supplier of seafood products. Such investments are increasingly being seen as vital if producer countries are to establish good relations with lucrative foreign markets.
Merlus is clearly looking ahead - although not officially a legal requirement as yet, the traceability of fish will most likely be mandatory for suppliers in the future. The company is therefore trying to break away from the competition and establish itself as a forward-looking and safety-conscious enterprise.
After freezing, the fillets are led to two Scanvaegt ScanBatcher 7100 packing lines. One is fully automatic and the other semi-automatic. Each fish or fillet is individually weighed before being directed to one of the 14 stations on the automatic line.
When the required weight of product has accumulated at a packing station, an operator releases the product into a plastic pouch after which it is sealed, scanned for metal or incorrect weight, and boxed.
The flexible semi-automatic line is operated by between 10 and 12 workers, each of whom works with an electronic scale and ensures that the correct weight of product is packed and ready for despatch. The flexibility also means that various types of fish can be packed on the line.
With a production control system that facilitates the traceability of every product that leaves the factory, Merlus believes that its fish processing factory is one of the most technologically advanced in southern Africa.