Business Challenges are a great way to uncover business problems and match them with creative and hi-tech research solutions that will help them improve business productivity. MPI and KiwiNet together provided two $5K prototype funds to help support the two best ideas on the day - and to allow follow up discussions and further refinement of the winning ideas. We organised an independent panel of four to chose one winner, and the second was chosen from the audience. The Salmon farmers were very supportive of the business challenge idea and proposed 14 potential challenges, of which 5 were chosen. They also committed to ongoing support with prototype development.
Winners of $5K Prototype funds were:
Freshwater salmon farms in the hydro canals lie along the canal in a sequential line pens. The volume of water moving through the canals each day represents an engineering challenge for pens designers. The pen structures need to contain elements that ensure the nets are kept in shape otherwise the volume could collapse in the rapid water flows.
Unfortunately the continuous tension and movement causes wear and tear of the net against the pen structures designed to keep the net in shape. The challenge is therefore to redesign the pen structures to minimise wear points yet maintain the net volume, and/or improve net design of material to minimise the wear.
As this is is a unique challenge, applicants are strongly advised to contact KiwiNet as soon as possible, so we can facilitate contact with Mount Cook Alpine Salmon for further engineering details.
Chinook salmon have fine pin bones that are difficult to remove but must be removed for most product lines. These bones can only be removed when the flesh has rested and is post rigor mortis. The existing removal process involves an intensive manual process using special tweezers or pliers. This can result in painful and permanent carpal tunnel injuries to the workers.
Automated or manual removal by machine is possible on the Atlantic species however the fine nature of the Chinook bones do not lend themselves to these existing machines resulting in significant bone breakage and very unsatisfactory product. There is therefore a very clear market opportunity for an automated tool that can be used on Chinook salmon both pre and post rigor and smoked.
This is a global issue for farmed fish, yet few solutions have been found. Solutions could address the production of less faeces, interception of faeces or faecal removal from the seabed. Where a potential solutions involves the interception and removal, consideration needs to be made for the organic Zinc and 1% dry matter contained in the faeces.
An unstressed fish tastes better, so ideas to lessen the stress on the salmon while grading, moving stock etc. The biggest issue to solve is lowering stress on the movement of fish to the point of stunning at harvest time.
Fish at a certain size ingest isopods that have swum en masse into the pens. This can result in gastric ulceration, intestinal perforation, peritonitis and blood loss leading to death. A solution needs to keep the isopods away from the salmon.