Fandicosta is one of Europe’s largest integrated seafood products companies, catching and processing 26,000t per year of species, including squid, swordfish, tuna and cod.
Fandicosta produces 600g and 400g bags of frozen hake fillets. Part of the appeal of this product is that each approximately 100g piece is large and well-formed.
Ramón Hermida Gómez said: "We try to avoid any very small pieces or fragments and that means we must avoid breakages during packing."
This used to be achieved by using semi-automatic linear weighers, each feeding 14 operatives who manually placed the pieces in the bags.
Gómez said: "The care taken by these people produced a high degree of product integrity.
"However, as you can imagine it was slow, partly because each bag had to be weighed again using a static balance.
"Going all-out, such a line could only produce 20 bags per minute."
Recently, Fandicosta has been introducing multihead weighing, with gentle handling weigher features from Ishida mounted over modern bagmakers.
The weighers have wide, shallowly-angled radial feeders and relatively short drop distances, to keep impact encountered by the fillets as low-energy as possible. Results from the product integrity point of view have been gratifying.
Gómez added: "We are keeping our breakages down to the same levels that we obtained using the manpower-intensive approach."
Ishida has introduced all the benefits associated with full automation, with speeds of up to 35ppm and the freeing up of skilled labour to work in other parts of the plant.
Gómez said: "Accuracy has also greatly improved, which means we get a better yield of bags per tonne of fish."
Gómez first came across Ishida multihead weighers fourteen years ago.
He added: "Every time we purchase equipment, we always look at a range of manufacturers, for reasons of diligence and also to see how the different firms are developing their technology.
"Both the technology and the reliability of the Ishida machines have been impressive.
"I also find that Ishida’s Spanish distributor, CIMA, is able to give us real continuity of service and advice: we know who we are dealing with from one year to the next."