Dundee company seeing orders after Norway boost

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Successful Norway foray lifts innovation and product-development at Dundee equipment maker Ace Aquatec.

Just months after braving the Norwegian market, Dundee-, Scotland based advanced equipment maker Ace Aquatec is on course for business success, after a number of its innovations have secured vital traction in key market Norway.

AquaNor conference-goers might remember the company winning a major innovation price for its fish stunner, a technology that makes painless the fish’s passage from grow-out to processing. The innovation used acoustic sound while also electrifying the water at the end of pipe.

If the Humane Stunner Universal, or HSU, and a couple of other innovations continue to garner interest and orders, then the company could attain meaningful growth in 2018.

“We’re now looking at £4 million,” company managing director, Nathan Pyne-Carter told SalmonBusiness.

The stunner was a stunning success at AquaNor, where it won the 100,000-kroner Innovation Prize. It’s now gearing up for testing throughout December at a Marine Harvest grow-out offshore Norway.

“We’ll try it at that first farm in December, but from January it’ll be in commercial use,” said Pyne-Carter. “Hopefully we’ll have more orders coming through for (Marine Harvest) depot vessels.”

A U.K. first
The Stunner was the first win for a U.K. company at Aqua Nor, and apart from the price money, Pyne-Carter remembers shaking the Prince of Norway’s hand. He also recalls why they said he won: “We can stun them early on in the pumping system, so there are low levels of stress for the fish and processing can occur in high quantities.”

With other salmon producers securing their presence at the Marine Harvest demo, Pyne-Carter can turn some attention to Ace Aquatec’s other innovations: the seal scaring Universal Scrammer 3, and the Biocam 3D biomass camera that give precise biomass readings.

The seal-scaring Scrammer 3 emits a pulse that makes thoughts of feeding uncomfortable for seals, which are ferocious eaters of salmon and a menace to themselves when visiting sea farms. Pulse frequencies can be set to a spectrum of between 20 kilohertz and 200 kHz, a non-issue for fish hearing which is down at around 0.05 kHz.

“There were no enquiries into the deterrent system in Norway, because they’re allowed to shoot seals there,” Pyne-Carter said in a nod to local knowledge and knowing your market. “In the U.K. you can shoot a few, but you have to apply for permission with the animal welfare agency.”

Norway interest
There was immediate Norwegian interest in the outfit’s biomass camera. The underwater equipment uses a timer and the green light specter to create 3D avatar of fish, “as on your Xbox”, for accurate biomass readings useful in fish-health monitoring: the weighting of fish orders or as early warning against sea lice. The camera will be available in 2018.

Triumph: Aqua Tec managing director, Nathan Pyne-Carter, received the Aqua Nor Innovation Price for 2017.

A separate sea lice machine is also due out next year, and R&D on the equipment appears to have been where Ace Aquatec used its Aqua Nor winnings. “The key for the Norwegian market is to try it and see,” Pyne-Carter said.

Meanwhile, another order for a stunner has come in from Denmark, interpreted to mean an order for a fishing vessel. To meet the expected demand for new Stunners, Seal Scarers, Cameras and De-Licers, the busy entrepreneurial dad has opened up a new office in Dundee, Scotland, where Ace Aquatec will be among its suppliers’ factories and the industrial splendor of a waterfront under renewal.