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“An Incredibly reliable net cleaning system”

Our predator nets are prone to fouling with scallops and mussels,

Using ROV based FNC8 net cleaners, the leading Australian fish farming company Huon Aquaculture has managed to clean about three times the number of square metres as before.

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With a downtime of only two percent, Business Development Executive, James Bender, describes the technology as the most reliable net cleaning system the company has ever had in operation.

“The FNC8 net cleaners have been very good compared to the other cleaning systems we’ve used. High water temperatures make marine fouling a big challenge for us in Tasmania. We clean our inner nets every five days and our predator nets once a month,” he explains.

Thus, efficient net cleaning operations is a critical success factor for Huon Aquaculture. When the company received its two first FNC8 cleaners, they were used during two shifts, around the clock, for three months. Today, the company has four units divided between two service boats, which are operated 12 hours a day, seven days a week. They have also decided to invest in an additional four FNC8 cleaners.

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(All images: Huon Aquaculture)

“In October, we’ll put two new service boats into operation. We have ordered two net cleaners for each boat, in addition to built-in high-pressure systems,” tells Bender, who is looking forward to the delivery.  

“Our predator nets are prone to fouling with scallops and mussels, which are difficult to remove without force. With an increased capacity, we’ll be able to prevent the issue by increasing the cleaning intervals,” he points out.

Preventive maintenance
Mike Thomson, AKVA group’s General Manager in Australasia, values the collaboration with Huon Aquaculture, which has shown great will to test new technology and share their experiences to help improve the products.

“Huon Aquaculture is a very innovative company to work with. They have a strong desire to make the equipment work and have an excellent proactive preventive maintenance programme. All their FNC8 units are serviced regularly, which minimises downtime and ensures continuity in their cleaning operations,” he points out.

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The FNC8 cleaners are controlled from a pilot chair, where the operator has full control of what takes place in the cage.

Geographically, Huon Aquaculture is situated far away from most suppliers. The company has counteracted the tyranny of distance by establishing a large local spare part supply as well as excellent service routines.

“We exchange key components ahead of time for routine servicing and also have extra thrusters, electronic cards and fuses on board all service boats, enabling our personnel to quickly replace any damaged parts,” James Bender says. 

Results through knowledge
The FNC8 net cleaner is developed by the Norwegian ROV producer Sperre ROV Technologies, which is partly owned by AKVA group. Earlier this year, General Manager Thor Olav Sperre travelled to Tasmania to assist with the commissioning of two systems. He was impressed by the “can do” attitude of Huon Aquaculture and their service partner Southern Ocean Sub Sea.

“Together they have built up cutting-edge expertise on the system and established the best service routines I have seen anywhere, which has made them very efficient in terms of maintenance and repairs,” Sperre says, adding:

“Good knowledge enables the customer to get the most out of the product. Huon Aquaculture is a great example of this. Thus, it’s a main priority for us to follow up our customers to make sure the system is functioning optimally for everyone.”
 
Minimal strain
A good high-pressure pump system is a critical factor for successful net cleaning. For new service boats, like the ones which Huon Aquaculture are currently building, a built-in system is an obvious choice. It weighs about half as much as a cabinet solution and does not take up valuable deck space.

“As with many other AKVA Group clients, Huon Aquaculture has focused on quality and chosen flexible KAMAT systems with diesel generators. This is not only a very solid system, but also service-friendly and easy to customize. By replacing the piston and cylinders, one can easily increase the capacity from 240 to 1,000 litres of water per minute,” explains Sales Manager Roy Ohren in AKVA group.

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The KAMAT pumps recently became available with electric engines, with all its advantages in forms of higher efficiency and lower maintenance requirements. On an electric engine, it is also possible to increase the capacity by simply changing the engine’s RPM. These days, AKVA group and Sperre are working on the development of the next generation FNC8. Support for higher water flows is one of several planned improvements.
 
“As the FNC8 has neither wheels nor belts, the risk of net damage is already minimized. This advantage will be even stronger for the next generation. The more water we use, the less pressure is needed – which ultimately reduces the stress on the net,” Ohren explains. 

Demand has been steadily increasing since the FNC8 net cleaner was introduced to the market in the beginning of 2017. As of today, more than 50 systems have been sold. The next generation FNC8 is expected to be released in the Northern Hemisphere in the autumn of 2018.  

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