Fresh salmon, safely packed

EM4 19 TECH Mosca Mowi Straps1A stainless steel strapping machine from Mosca proves itself at Mowi, Norway

The global salmon indsutry is booming. In 2017, the leading countires in this sector produced over two millions tons of the popular food fish.  The increasinly competitive salmon industry is driving companies to find ways to maximixe products yield and quality. One methode of acheving this feat is through the carfeull cordination of all phases of the production proces – from spawning to packaging. Mowi, previously Marine Harvest, the world’s largest supplier of farmed Atlantic Salmon recently tested a new stainless-steel strapping machine specially developed for the food industry with the hope of increasing coordination between their phases of the production process. Integrated into a fully automated production line in Ulvan, Norway, the Mosca Evolution SoniXs MS-6-VA has been strapping Styrofoam boxes packed with fresh fish since October 2017. Thus far, everyone at Mowi Norway, and Ulvan – from management staff to machine operators – is extremely impressed by the reliable, easy-to-clean strapping machine innovation.

When fresh salmon arrives by boat at the Mowi factory on the Norwegian island of Ulvoya, the clock is on. All companies in the business of selling fresh fish understand the consequences of even being one hour behind schedule. In a fully automated operation, the fish is packed at a temperature of below 2 °C in styrofoam boxes that are filled with ice and covered with an unfastened lid. The boxes are then double strapped to secure the lid and provide protection with added stability. Afterwards, they are loaded onto pallets for transport and leave the factory on a truck. Mowi has more than 13,000 employees working at locations in 25 countries. In 2016, the company produced 381,000 tons of fresh salmon. Some of this fish is processed in-house, for example, to make breaded or marinated fish fillets.


EM4 19 TECH Mosca Mowi Machine action2Food industry specialist

Mosca developed the new Evolution SoniXs MS-6-VA specifically for conditions like those in the Mowi plant in Ulvan. Thanks to the high-quality stainless steel used for the springs and bearings, the machine is corrosion resistant. With the company’s real-time control, users can integrate the machine into fully automated lines and operate it from a control station.

In late 2017, Mosca was looking for a place to conduct in-depth testing of the newly developed machine under challenging conditions before its market launch. Mowi Norway's fully automated high-speed production line offered the right opportunity. "Live testing is an important part of [our] product development process," explains Christian Grosskopf, Mosca food and beverage industry manager. "We wanted to find out how this machine would operate under demanding offshore production conditions."

Testing under real-world conditions

Mowi quickly agreed to test the machine at its factory in Ulvan. The machine was integrated into one of the company's three production lines in October 2017. The fast pace of fully automated production combined with salty air and pressure washing put the stainless-steel instrument to the test. Nonetheless, it has thus far mastered more than 1,000,000 strapping cycles and is still in perfect condition.

Close cooperation between the two companies was an essential aspect of the machines testing in Norway. In weekly telephone calls, the experts on both sides shared information about the machine’s performance and possible improvements. This enabled the producers of the machine to continue to make optimizations during the trial period. The minor, but not insignificant improvements that have been made to the machine since the trial period have resulted in less abrasion on the styrofoam boxes and a reduction in contamination of the machine’s body. "Our close contact with Mowi throughout the test phase was extremely helpful," Grosskopf explains. "The phone calls and on-site inspections at the beginning of the testing phase, as well as after six and nine months, gave us a steady stream of feedback and suggestions for improvement – from managers and from the operators who work with the machine every day."

EM4 19 TECH Mosca Mowi Machine cut out3Satisfied customer

Mosca’s machine has proven itself in the test phase in Norway. “The strapping machine scores highly on reliability, which is vital for our fast-paced line operations,” states Ulf E. Jensen, Technical Manager at Mowi. With up to 52 strapping cycles per minute, the machine fully meets the salmon company’s needs. “Our machine operators appreciate the automatic double strap dispenser that enables them to change the strap coil quickly and easily,” says Jensen. When one coil is almost empty, the machine ejects the last piece of strap and automatically switches to the second coil. This eliminates the need for the operator to stop the machine to change coils. A new coil can be reloaded 'on-the-fly' without interrupting the ongoing production process. This helps minimize downtime. Moreover, the strap does not need to be thermally heated to ensure a secure closure. This eliminates plastic or styrofoam residue on the sealing unit, which could limit machine functioning or produce vapors or toxins.

The strapping machine is easily accessible and can be cleaned with a pressure washer, just like the other devises in the production line. Even various cleaning agents have no effect on the strapping machine's electronic components.

A bright future for the the strapping machine

The Mosca strapping machine has been available on the market since spring 2018. The devise has attracted a lot of attention at the Anuga Foodtec in Cologne as well as at the Seafood Expo Global in Brussels. "[Our invention] has great potential, especially in the food production sector, where hygiene and safety are extremely important," Christian Grosskopf explains. "Our comprehensive testing under real-world conditions in Norway proves that the machine is a perfect match for the extreme demands of high-speed production in offshore conditions."

The Evolution SoniXs MS-6-VA has gained a permanent position at Mowi. Immediately after completing the test phase, the salmon company ordered two machines for its production line in Norway.