Australians spend many millions of dollars on seafood leading up to Christmas. The next four months, all ending in “R”, are the prime window for the oyster farming community – and for many it is the make or break period that influences a profitable year versus a year to forget.
SED Graders help maximise the Christmas season. In 2020 and again this year the industry has battled many obstacles emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced domestic and international sales opportunities have hurt and the loss of staff and constrained operating conditions have influenced the outcomes for many farmers.
The continuing uncertainty does offer scope to think about current operations and how to further maximise harvest and future proof operations for profitability in fragile times.
People will always buy seafood, especially Australian oysters, however if we have learnt anything, it requires more than resilience and time have somehow sped up whilst COVID has forced most of the population to slow down. For many of our farmers the recent events have forced them to re-evaluate farming methods and streamline production, creating greater consistency, reducing costs and speeding up delivery to market to meet customers’ expectations.
Our many years servicing the oyster industry have enabled us to understand the challenges oyster farming presents. In the grading process, the high reliance on manual labour and the recruitment and retention of quality grading staff have traditionally been problematic.
Caring for the live oyster to ensure it survives the grading process, particularly when employing automated machinery, along with the treatment of overcatch, are added considerations that factor into the efficiency of the grading process.
The oyster grading automated machines developed by SED Graders alleviate these issues in ways that have seen many farms rejuvenate their processes and add significant financial value back into their operations.
We engineer our vision grading machines to separate, measure, sort, count and bag up to 2700 oysters per hour. You can operate the machine single handedly, or for larger operations, by employing a maximum of three people the machine replaces a traditional station of 13 workers hand grading. The machine uses an advanced system of cushioned air which drastically reduces any injury to the live oyster. Even when compared to experienced hand oyster graders, the water retention was equal to and in some experiments, better than, manual operation.
The labour and time savings alone, especially during the high volume months leading into Christmas, well exceed the initial investment. When adding in the increased speed, scheduling flexibility and sorting accuracy at 99%, the system makes an appreciable contribution to the farm’s running costs and a very healthy change to the operational efficiency.
The team at SED has been working with advancements in treating overcatch, reducing the margin for error associated with the traditional method of hot water. We now have the ability to integrate a salt brine bath without a secondary process into the grading line without reducing the speed of the processing or incurring additional labour costs.
The use of the salt brine bath has greatly improved mortality rates and you can easily bypass the bath when it’s not required. This added feature of the vision grading machines has been in the development phase for many years and is now ready for farms to take advantage of.
Engineering plays its role in farming practice. Our role is to assist farms in sustaining a profitable business by improving efficiencies, reducing labour costs and increasing consistency and speed to market. The vision grading machine along with the engineered accessories and now the overcatch treatment inclusions are playing a critical function in ensuring the industry remains competitive and sustainable for short and long term.
The key benefits obtained by shifting the grading process to an automated system are highly recognised by our customers who have adopted the automation practice.
The reduction in labour cost and challenges associated with labour retention are an immediate advantage to the farm’s profitability and efficiency. The machine is ready to work when you are. You have total control over your grading schedule and the mitigation of labour risk is clearly evident. The speed and accuracy of the grading are of significant advantage, especially during peak periods when demand is high. The SED vision grading machines are built for reliability and longevity and our back up servicing and maintenance division has been further enhanced with a senior technician now based in South Australia for our mainland customers.
Contact us for any questions you may have and when you are considering a SED Graders’ vision grading machine or upgrading your current machine with an overcatch treatment bath. As we head into the busy Christmas period, our team is here to assist you.
With over 20 years in the industry, you can trust our machines and our team to deliver on our promises.