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                                      Robots cut, process snow crab in Newfoundland      Credit:  CBC/Canada

More automation comes to seafood processing – 

Robots are cutting up the snow crab catches in remote Newfoundland.

The CBC reports that the world’s first crab plant robot is at work in a plastic chamber about the size of a shipping container.

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A conveyor belt delivers the crab where it’s scooped up by a robot and put under a blade. The legs tumble into a tub below, sorted, sectioned and ready to go.

The machine was developed by the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation.  Bob Verge is managing director.   Another robot in the works, he says, will shuck the crab meat.

“Our overall goal was to extract the meat. Instead of sending our crab out as sections with the meat in the shell we thought we could attract a higher price if we sold the meat instead”

In today’s world, the crabs are sent out to lower waged countries like China where the meat is extracted.

The robot makers are hoping their machines will help solve workforce problems in fish plants caused by such changing demographics. Verge says in this case, humans will work on more highly skilled machines and computers, and not on the crab.

“If we are going to attract the young people we need, we need better jobs, not more jobs. We have to offer them a better deal. Already demonstrating this technology to young people, they are very impressed with it. They say this is impressive stuff. I’d like to do this.” 

Robots also are making inroads into seafood cold storage. A Netherlands company called NewCold is building one of our nation’s biggest warehouses outside of Tacoma. WA.

Seafood products will be stored on a system of racks in low oxygen in pitch dark and transported to the loading area by  conveyors and robots.

When it’s completed at year’s end, the warehouse will have storage capacity of  more than 25 million cubic feet.  NewCold is partnering with Trident Seafoods for the freezing venture, its first major client.

Thanks to the assist from CBC, Canada.