Keywater Fisheries Ltd.’s principal business activity is aquaculture. They produce juvenile freshwater Perch in dedicated warm water re-circulation units and can grow these Perch to market size using their onsite outdoor split pond technology. Having worked with the PEM Technology Gateway at IT Sligo on a previous Innovation Voucher, which focused on potential design solutions for a grading instrument, Keywater Fisheries decided to approach PEM about working a 2nd innovation Voucher with them.
Innovative Grading System
The problem to be addressed in this Innovation Voucher project was the grading of juvenile perch. Grading of the Perch optimises production by reducing cannibalism, decreases size variability among growing fish, and improves feed conversion efficiency by using the appropriate size food grades for the size of fish. The grading process with juvenile perch is currently done on a weekly basis and is very labour intensive and physically challenging. This current process requires filling a bucket type device with fish. The grid in the base of the bucket lets fish of a certain size pass through while holding back the other larger fish. Grading begins with a 1.5mm grid with increasing increments of 2mm / 2.5mm / 4mm / 4.5mm / 5mm. Keywater Fisheries Ltd would like the knowledge provider to design and manufacture a fully functional prototype which will automate the grading process.
Keywater Fisheries & PEM Partnership
After meeting with Keywater Fisheries and ensuring we understood the problem they had, the PEM research staff began development of an automated fish grading Machine. Student Researchers undertook desktop research, developed concept drawings and delivered working prototype of a system based on the client’s design brief. The prototype system is currently undergoing functionality testing at the Keywater hatchery site in Cloonloo Co. Sligo
It was a valuable exercise for us to work with the PEM Gateway / IT Sligo in the development of a prototype automated oyster handling machine. Being able to utilise the research capabilities and facilities of the IT gave us confidence the project would be delivered to our expectation. It’s great to have all the facilities under one roof, whereby an idea can be advanced from concept to a working piece of equipment. Our prototype was even included in IT Sligo's annual Engineering Expo which created good exposure for us also.
Thanks to the third-year engineering students in IT Sligo that worked on the project .
– Brian Connellan, Shane Fowley, Michael Loughlin and Andrew McClean