New wellboat counter - Vaki
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New wellboat counter

06.01.2008

A new solution in counting fish on wellboats.

Once again, Vaki is proud to announce a new solution in the history of counting for fish farming. For the past 20 years the company has been a leader in the design and manufacture of counters for fish of all types and sizes, and counters from Vaki are in use in over 40 countries in operations involving fish of all species, from fry to harvest size. The technology employed has changed over the years: where infra-red light was used at first, solutions are now based on computer vision. Capacity and accuracy have both risen, and the stage has now been reached where counts can be substantiated by images of each individual fish; this means that disputes about the numbers of fish delivered, which so many fish farmers know from bitter experience, can be avoided. In addition, Vaki's new counter can measure the size of the fish during the count, so making it possible to arrive at the average weight and the size distribution at the same time.

 

14” vacuum pumps

In the past it has been difficult to achieve accurate counting of smolts from wellboats. As the numbers of smolts in each delivery are high, the throughput rate has to be greater than in ordinary hatcheries. For this reason much larger pumps are used to raise them from the wells (typically 14”) so a large amount of water is involved. Furthermore, seawater is more difficult to handle than freshwater, as froth is formed during pumping. All these factors result in greater difficulty in counting, and up to now accuracy in counting has been correspondingly poor. However, Vaki's experts have developed a solution to the problem, and the company has now launched its Wellboat Counter on the market.

 

Automatic level adjustment

One of the new wellboat counters was installed in the Gripfisk, a Norwegian boat that was undergoing reconstruction. The wells are emptied using a two-tank 14” vacuum pump, so it is important to dewater the fish before they are counted. Vaki recruited the Norwegian company MMC Tendos to help with the design of the water-drainage system that was connected with the counter. In addition, an automatic level adjustment was attached to the counter, so that even though the boat tilts because one of the tanks is emptied before the other, the counter will register the tilt and automatically right itself by means of hydraulic jacks.

 

300,000 smolts per hour

The technology used in the counter is the same as that used in Vaki's Macro counter for the delivery and grading of fish all over the world. A camera is positioned in a box above the counting area, with a light source located below. As the fish pass over the counting area, their images are scanned in by the camera and stored in a computer. With a width of 140 cm, the counting area is much larger than in an ordinary Macro counter, which makes for a far greater capacity: more than 300,000 smolts per hour can be counted. The computer used to control the counter is situated up in the bridge of the vessel, so the process can be directed and monitored by the captain. In addition, a camera positioned on top of the counter monitors the evenness of the flow of fish from the counter, this information being displayed on a screen up in the bridge.

Reports for the customer

Obviously, since all the software programs used in production management generate projections of feed requirements and growth based on the numbers of fish in the pens, it is vital for purchasers to be able to rely on the accuracy of the estimates of these numbers. Too many fish (as compared with the estimate) will result in underfeeding, with the fish being below the intended weight at the time of harvesting. For this purpose, confirmation of the numbers in each pen, based on recordings of the image scans with detailed reports are an important aid. The counter makes it possible to print a report following each count; over and above the traditional count data, the report contains information on the average number counted per hour, the length of time during which the counter's capacity was exceeded and a graph showing how many fish were counted per hour, their average size and their size distribution, in addition to other interesting data. This enables the customer to assess the reliability of the count and, if he considers it necessary, to raise objections or ask questions about the delivery immediately.

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