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Marel’s Precision Weighing & Grading at Seafood Processor Godthaab í Nöf


Marel (Iceland) – Godthaab í Nöf, in Iceland’s Westmann Islands, processes around 7,500 tons of seafood per year; mostly cod, pollock, and haddock. Its chief markets are North America, for frozen products, and France, where they sell almost all their fresh produce, using their own sales company. The company was established in 2002 and has grown from 15 people to more than a hundred. Today, their modern facilities include Marel’s Classic Flowline and Custom Grader.

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“In 2005, we bought a second-hand Marel flowline from Samherji in Dalvík. That was our first experience of Marel equipment and we saw that this was something for us,” says Daði Pálsson, Production Manager at Godthaab í Nöf.

They soon wanted to further improve their equipment and decided to invest in a bigger flowline, upgrading from a 20-station line to a 24-station line including a Custom Grader. Marel flowlines offers short processing time, gentle product handling, and increased efficiency.

“By buying the grader and flowline we increased throughput tremendously,” says Pálsson. “We increased throughput by 27% per man-hour, plus we no longer needed as many people for this process. We have very precise weighing and grading today, which we didn’t have at all before.”

Raising Throughput & Quality:The two essential components of the Marel Custom Grader are: the dynamic weigher – an ultra-robust, high-accuracy weigher, which can be customized to handle various weight ranges and throughput; and the discharge unit – tailor-made to fit customer requirements.

“It’s really amazing how much we are putting through. It contributes to the overall throughput and we’re saving tens of millions* just in overweight – and we were really saving right from the first week,” says Pálsson. “So we saw the payback for the grader very quickly.”

“The flow through our plant takes half the time it took before. We always had to pack trays because packing couldn’t keep up with the flowline, so there was always some build-up there. Today there is no build-up anywhere,” Pálsson explains.

“We have much higher quality and the end-product temperature is much lower because we process the product very quickly, and as we expected we are achieving a higher ratio in the more valuable packs.”

Many factors are considered at Godthaab í Nöf when it comes to evaluating the performance of their people and equipment, and the quality of their products, but mainly it’s about making the right cut and using the optimal proportion of the raw material in the most valuable packs. “We see the division into packs for each and every one, so we’re always watching that the greatest proportion is used in the most valuable products,” says Pálsson. “The difference between products adds up to an enormous amount.”

While high throughput is important, the processor is very careful to ensure that quality is never compromised. “We can have all products from the flowline pass through quality control, and with throughput and yield [monitoring] we see who is fastest and look at them more closely to make sure they don’t get ahead of themselves.”

Smooth Installation, Speedy Payback:A fast and successful installation has a positive effect on the speed and degree of payback. “Within a week we went from an empty building to being fitted out with everything up and running, which we hadn’t thought possible,” Pálsson explains. “So the installation was just fantastic.”

“We saw the value of the flowline the day after installation. We saw exactly how the throughput rose per employee and that we needed fewer people in the various roles for which we’d needed many people before, such as packing fresh fish,” he says.

“For example, we had up to 7 packing fresh fish whereas today we manage easily with just 3, even though they’re handling a much higher volume; 30% more than before.”

Better Work Conditions:

“Conditions for the workers have greatly improved. This is a whole different life for them,” Pálsson explains. “The fish we have in the Westmann Islands are very big and the larger tables, for example, mean that the fillets fit much better. This also helps with their cutting, so that they’re no longer constantly straining their backs and shoulders. We also have adjustable platforms so each operator can adjust theirs to suit themselves.”

“When it comes to batching, the variable height of the Custom Grader means they can position themselves and stand in the way they find best, plus there’s little they need to lift today,” says Pálsson. “It’s a huge advantage that they’re almost always with the same fillet and always the same cut, and this leads to higher throughput,” says Pálsson.

A Combination That Makes the Difference:

“As an owner, there are so many advantages that have to be considered: work conditions, better use of space in the building, higher throughput per man-hour,” says Pálsson. “We’re processing higher volumes every day while at the same time decreasing our operating costs. All these elements – plus the fact that we have new packages, can grade better and pack better – for me this is all one big combination that makes a difference to us.”

This combination of advantages is also opening new possibilities for Godthaab í Nöf. “We can reach new markets with the grader,” says Pálsson. “Now we can batch fillets and loins and can keep batches very tight. We couldn’t do that before.”

“This has opened up additional processing possibilities for us.”

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