New Zealand fishing company Sanford Limited recently invited proposals from research organizations across New Zealand in an effort to improve the way it processes the shellfish.

Through a KiwiNet Business Challenge, Sanford will look at 10 proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help the company process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels.

The pitches are expected to cover five key business challenges for mussel processing identified by Sanford, including:

  • Sorting mussels by predicted weight. A new, more accurate method of predicting mussel weight would improve grading and blanching accuracy. According to the company, this is a high-value challenge that could have global applications.
  • Removing mussel beards. The mussel industry currently uses a machine that is only around 75 percent efficient. The challenge is to find an alternate solution that would improve efficiency to closer to 100 percent.
  • Identifying a commercially viable use for mussel shells. Identifying a commercially viable use for old mussel ropes.
  • Automated notification of failed navigation lights. A retrofit innovation is needed to autonomously signal when a bulb fails.

Commenting on the challenge, Sanford's aquaculture manager, Ted Culley, said: "Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This is a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential."