June 30, 2020

Extend Shelf-Life of Salmon by up to 7 Days

Ragnar Guðmundsson speaks to Ásgeir Ingvarsson , a journalist at Morgunblaðið about the latest innovations in seafood processing.

Ragnar Guðmundsson speaks to Ásgeir Ingvarsson , a journalist at Morgunblaðið about the latest innovations in seafood processing.

The success of Skaginn 3X over the last few years has probably not gone unnoticed by readers. The company has a solid foundation and strong roots that originate in Akranes and Ísafjörður, so with innovation and hard work, the company has, in a relatively short period of time, been able to secure its place as a leading company when it comes to solutions for the food industry.

Ragnar A. Guðmundsson is the Sales Manager of Skaginn 3X for Europe and Scandinavia. He is proud of the widespread use of the company’s solutions: “We have delivered solutions to companies on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica. It can be argued that at any given moment, one of our machines is processing food, somewhere in the world!”

Norway is one of Skaginn 3X’s key markets. In 2017, a subsidiary was established there, and Ragnar says that ever since, there has been a constant growth in sales. The biggest growth has been in equipment relating to salmon, pelagic and whitefish processing.

“It is especially satisfying to see the success of this market and how receptive Norwegians have been to new technology for the salmon industry. The benefit is clear: by sub-chilling salmon, we are able to extend the shelf life of the product by seven days, while at the same time we are utilising processes that make salmon fleshfirmer and stronger. Last but not least,  SUB-CHILLING™ eliminates the need for ice during transport between countries and continents, which makes transport more efficient and environmentally friendly.”

Nothing is irrelevant

The diverse portfolio of Skaginn 3X might come as a surprise, but the company makes RoteX™ circulation, cooling and thawing systems, automatic plate freezers, IQF tunnel freezers, automatic palletizing and packing systems, tub washing systems and fully automatic fish holds, as well as a range of smaller solutions. While companies abroad are usually carrying a more limited and specialised product assortment, nothing is irrelevant for Skaginn 3X when it comes to the needs of the fishing industry. Ragnar says that this is due to its staff’s practice of working with customers in analysing their needs and seeking common solutions.

A good example is the newly designed spiral pump for products, which has been given the name ValuePump™. “This is a so-called Archimedes pump that transfers a product over a certain distance and lifts it to a height of up to 10 metres, without creating too much pressure on the raw material. The system can also be used to pump catches to processing; the pump provides gentler handling of raw material and reduces the likelihood of damaging the intestines and contaminating the fish flesh. Furthermore, the ValuePump™ uses about a sixth of the power of traditional pumps, but it nevertheless has great output. For example, we have produced a ValuePump™ for fish processing in Peterhead, Scotland that is capable of an hourly output of 60 to 70 tonnes of pelagic catch from ship to plant. The plan was to start installation of this equipment in July, but unfortunately, these plans were delayed because of the coronavirus.”

Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the operations of Skaginn 3X. Sending teams of staff to customers to install new machinery and equipment has not been possible. Ragnar says that although meeting customers face to face has not been possible, the sales team has dealt with the problem by teleconferencing. “Our job in the sales department is largely about demonstrating the expected benefit of our systems to potential customers. Often, the contracts are big and there are many issues that need attendance, so the process can be time-consuming”, Ragnar says.

Ragnar A. Guðmundsson, Sales Manager of Skaginn 3X for Europe and Scandinavia, says that sub-chilling reduces transport costs and is more environmentally friendly. 

Big contracts in the UK and Norway

One of the larger and more recent projects is a comprehensive solution that Skaginn 3X is currently manufacturing for Morrisons, the British supermarket chain. “Unlike other supermarkets in the UK, Morrisons operates its own fish processing facilities and buys frozen raw material for the most part, an area where we can offer strong support. We designed a comprehensive system that thaws frozen raw material and returns it sub-chilled in consumer packaging, plus a solution that processes by-products. The most interesting aspect is that we manage the raw material every step of the way, so it is possible to optimise the quality and shelf life with our own solution. Also, it is exciting because Morrisons will be the first company to implement sub-chilling in the British Isles”, Ragnar says.

“Furthermore, contracts have been made with Mowi, the Norwegian salmon farming company, the largest in its sector in the world. To give an idea of the system’s size, it will extend the shelf life and reduce ice in the transport of just under 70 thousand tonnes of salmon every year.”

Fortunately, buyers have been very understanding when it comes to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and Ragnar says Skaginn 3X employees are ready to connect and start installing new equipment as soon as normal international travel becomes possible again. “We regularly have status meetings with our customers and resolve problems in good collaboration.”

Seamanship helps with sales

Ragnar points out that although many jobs within high-tech companies relating to the fish industry are highly specialised and require a strong background, in either the technological or industrial disciplines, there are also an abundance of exciting jobs for people with different backgrounds.

Ragnar’s own career demonstrates where the road may lead within the fish industry and related sectors. Early in his life, Ragnar became a fisherman, finished college at Ísafjörður, studied at the Marine Engineering College of Iceland there, then studied technology at Reykjavik University, finished his fish farming degree at the University at Hólar and is currently working on his graduate project in fishery studies at Akureyri University. “My whole family has strong ties with the fishing industry. I first went to sea when I was eight years old and bought my first boat at 25 years of age”, Ragnar says. He joined Skaginn 3X a little over seven years ago. “It immediately became clear that it was a great advantage for a man in sales to have been at sea for a long time and studied disciplines relating to the fishing industry.”

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