When deciding whether to invest in an automated feeder for aquaculture, one of the questions that may arise is: How does the routine of our farm change?
For better understanding what impact a centralized feeding system has on the daily work at a fish or shrimp farm, let us to clarify the steps that follow the purchase, using FishFarmFeeder (FFF) as an example.
The implementation of a centralized feeding system can occur when there is a need to move from distributing fish feed manually to supplying it by an automated system. As well as by drafting new farms, whereby custom-made feeders managed by an automaton, at the farm or remotely, are included in the project.
Especially in the case of an upgrade of an existing farm the feeders should be designed to help in a smooth adaptation of the staff at the farm. Therefore, FFF automated feeding systems are manufactured so that their installation as well as their control is as simple as possible.
The installation of the FFF feeder and piping is carried out by personnel authorized and qualified by FFF. By professionals who have knowledge and experience to guarantee the correct start-up and proper operation of the machine.
An automated feeder must be located on a flat base, so it can be leveled. The base should have a solid surface capable of supporting its weight.
In addition, it requires a power supply and connection to a data network. If one of these things is missing, an alarm signal will appear.
After the feeder is located at the indicated place at the farm, the operation of the machine and the customized software that has been designed according to the specification and data supplied by the aquaculture company are reviewed.
Several tests that follow are used to verify that the machine works correctly, which are also shown to the staff of the farm as a part of training.
Each fish or shrimp farm usually controls the feeding based on a predefined feeding schedule that is adapted to the specie, the size of the fish, etc. When the centralized automated feeder is delivered and installed, the feeding requirements needs to be incorporated into the software. For overcoming any delay in feeding, FFF supplies (together with the machine) a custom-made software with predefined feeding parameters and this way reduces the time for its start-up. The staff of the farm later updates the feed dosing according to the biologists’ requirements.
As the FFF feeders are customized they can work up to 24 hours a day, respecting that some species, such as shrimp, may require a full day feeding. The FFF machines are designed to work autonomously, even if the data network fails.
If some tanks are empty or should not be fed, it’s also no problem. These modifications can be pre-programmed or introduced manually so that the feed is distributed at a predefined time to specific tanks. It can be done in real time thanks to the software.
The same applies to feed. One or several types of pellet size can be used by feeding, respecting the growth of the fish and the needs of the farm (if the feeding system was requested to be manufactured this way).
Each dose is generated in a volumetric way, using augers. The screws must be calibrated by the staff only when the feed or batch is changend.
Dust that may remain after a shot in the pipes and can cause problems, has a solution in the FFF feeders. The air is blown through the pipes before and after each shot. The blowing time can be modified in the software.
As seen above the involvement of the workers of the farm after installing an automated feeder is not complicated. In general, we may say that it consists of checking if there is feed in the silos, if the current feeding system is loaded into the feeder program and revising if some warnings appear on the screen (indicated by light signals). Any anomaly would leave a record in the software and notify the operator.
An automated feeder for aquaculture requires a similar maintenance as any machine. It means the lubrication as specified in the manual and the cleaning of the sensitive elements, depending on the type of machine.
As already mentioned above for ensuring the dosing accuracy it is important to calibrate the augers when changing feed or batch.
As known human resources are the key element of success of any project, and even more in aquaculture.
Having this in mind the staff of the farm receives training from the FFF experts over several days. Usually during the installation of the feeder. Learning during the installation and start-up of the machine helps to handle and control the machine later without problems. The training is focused on maintenance personnel and production, respecting the different needs of each group. In addition, a manual of the machine is provided.
If for any reason any doubt arises later, FFF offers remote support and help. There is also the possibility of contracting maintenance programs to receive technical support from FFF over the lifetime of the product.