July 12, 2019
As reported by CBC, after 9 years of product development, Robert Verge and his St-John’s-based team at the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) have received a U.S. patent for their crab-cutting robot. The innovation is being hailed as a breakthrough in fish-processing technology worldwide.
Currently, crab meat extraction is conducted overseas due to low labour costs. Verge’s innovation, however, is more efficient, less labour-intensive and can be employed in Canadian fish plants. The machine transports a crab down the conveyor belt where a sophisticated camera analyzes its unique characteristics. After the picture is taken, the computer instructs a robot to saw off the crab’s legs, sort and package it. The entire process happens in mere seconds.
The system was initially designed for snow crabs but is adaptable to other crab species. This versatility has spurred significant interest, including from international markets that have been searching for an efficient and cost-effective method to process crabs.
CCFI does not sell its technology but plans to license the system to others with capacity to manufacture and sell the units. “This is really just the start of something” said Verge, who has applied for patents in 10 other countries and anticipates those to be issued soon. Indeed, the future is bright for CCFI as they consider tackling robotic solutions to other fish production problems.
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Madeline Warren