July 2018

When the manager of a seafood processing plant is evaluating different options for a seafood processing equipment, yield is an important criteria.

Yield performance occurs in different ways around the processing activity.

Usually the processing equipment manufacturer will focus on the yield provided by their own equipment and will provide data only related to the equipment. In a fully automated system, a 100% performance is rarely achievable with an average fish or seafood catch. The processor should expect that a certain percentage of the product fed in the fully automated fish processing system will not be processed perfectly. If an equipment manufacturer states that their machine provides a 100% yield, the purchaser should be suspicious and should start asking questions.

In a semi-automated system, a 100% efficiency is easier to achieve. The worker can complete a self-evaluation and can "rework" the product until the processing is fully completed according to requirements.

The plant manager should investigate the following aspects of the process that will have an impact on the productivity.

1. Pre-process

This refers to the requirements of the seafood product that can be fed in the machine. They are usually provided by the equipment fabricator. These requirements allow the achievement of the optimal yield. These requirements might regard size, weight, the level of cleanliness, or other specifications. This means that, for example, a sorting system, a cleaning line or an inspection station are required and must be installed before the processing machine, so that only the products meeting the required parameters are fed in the equipment. The product that is not compatible with the equipment specifications, but that still needs to be processed, may need to be calculated in the overall productivity.

2. Parallel process

The production plant manager should then plan how the fish or seafood product that is incompatible with the equipment should be managed. Depending on the machine requirements, the manager might, for instance, evaluate the possibility of:

- Processing the fish by hand.

- Complete the required change to the seafood product so it can be fed in the processing system.

- Processing the raw fish or seafood into another finished product.

The costs of performing these additional processing steps should be calculated in the overall processing cost and efficiency.

3. Tracking rejects

The processor should also investigate what happens to the fish or seafood product that went through the processing equipment but is not processed according to the expected requirements. This is what is usually announced by the equipment manufacturer. Usually the processing equipment manufacturer should provide solutions on how to manage these so called “rejects”. Are the products automatically sorted and placed apart? Do they remain mixed with the good product? If the rejected product is sorted, can it still be recuperated, for instance processed manually? Or does it have to be destroyed and be considered a complete loss? If the off specification product is mixed with the good one, should an inspection station be planned? Can this inspection be automated or does it have to be manual? If the off-grated product cannot be sorted out and must remain mixed with the good one, the plant manager should evaluate how this loss of quality affects the overall value of the production run.

When investing in a new processing equipment, calculating the entire process performance and yield is important because it provides the plant manager with an accurate picture of his return on investment.