June this year will see the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Vaki by Hermann Kristjánsson, who was then completing his studies in Electrical Engineering at the University of Iceland.
There was great optimism in 1986 at the prospect of exporting Icelandic smolts to Norway and Scotland, but no counters existed for the budding fish-farming industry. Hermann perceived this need and set about developing the Bioscanner counter, over 2,000 units of which have since been supplied to fish farms in more than 40 countries.
Cooperation for innovation
Asked to look back over the history of the company 20 years on, Hermann says lots of things come to mind. "I think what stands out is how much fish farming has changed over this time," he says, "and how satisfying it has been to have played a part in developing equipment of various types that has helped fish farmers to take advantage of technology and become industrialised. Fish farming has been transformed in recent years, with machines and devices taking over what used to be difficult and time-consuming jobs; plants have expanded and companies have merged. Vaki has always enjoyed collaboration with key companies in the field on its product development work and has made a point of looking for solutions to all problems that arise. It is very important that companies which support the industry through product development and innovations should have the opportunity and scope to grow in step with the fish-farming firms themselves."
Asked about priorities in product development, Hermann says: "We have always attached priority to product development based on the needs of our customers. We have been leaders in our field and introduced new things of various types, both counters and biomass estimators. The latest example of this is our circular fish grader, which is different from other graders. We have tried to look at our customers needs from a fresh angle and find solutions that make their operations both easier and more profitable," he says. "This is the basis of all our product development."
A wealth of experience
"Another important factor in Vaki's success over the past 20 years," says Hermann, "is that we have always had extremely capable staff who have done everything they can to meet our customer's needs. The average length of time people have spent in the company is more than 10 years, which means that a lot of knowledge and experience has been built up as regards product development, technical skills and the needs of the market."
Stability and diversity
Hermann is quick to answer when asked how he envisages the trend in fish farming in the years ahead. "I see further growth ahead in our main market areas, and more stability than there has been in the last few years," he says. "I think there will be fewer entities, but larger, with mergers continuing. I also expect new species to become more important, especially cod farming in Norway, and also, to a lesser extent, certain other more expensive species like turbot, halibut, barramundi and shrimp. Demand for seafood can only increase, and it is clear that it will not be met by larger catches, but by further growth in fish farming."News Archives