Growing Shrimp is Big Business

In the suburbs of Lansing, MI, far from the Pacific coast, there is a huge tank of salt water filled with many small creatures. Watching this tank, it is not uncommon to see a live shrimp flip into the air. But Andrew Wesolek just shrugs it off. He has seen startled shrimp before. “Yeah, they like to jump,” he notes.

05/01/2009


In the suburbs of Lansing, MI, far from the Pacific coast, there is a huge tank of salt water filled with many small creatures. Watching this tank, it is not uncommon to see a live shrimp flip into the air. But Andrew Wesolek just shrugs it off. He has seen startled shrimp before. “Yeah, they like to jump,” he notes. Wesolek oversees operations at Seafood Systems Inc., in Okemos MI, one of America’s first indoor shrimp farms.

The plant is a pilot aquaculture R&D facility designed by company founder and president Russ Allen, a veteran shrimp farmer. He transformed Belize and Ecuador from shrimp niche players to powerhouses. After dotting Central America’s coasts with shrimp farms, the Michigan native returned home to raise a family and show that shrimp can grow just about anywhere.

A Wago PLC has been programmed with a tailored shrimp feed curve that disperses food based upon variables such as stock in tank and growth state. Source: SSI

A Wago PLC has been programmed with a tailored shrimp feed curve that disperses food based upon variables such as stock in tank and growth state. Source: SSI

He transformed a pole-barn into the ideal space to grow, breed, and harvest 10-limbed crustaceans. “We hope to revolutionize shrimp farming,” Wesolek adds. “The goal is to eventually produce 5 million pounds of shrimp per year out of a new, larger facility.”

Most farmed shrimp consumed in the U.S. come from Pacific-rim nations and Central America, so there is a desire to develop domestic supplies.

10 legs, big appetites

Keeping the stock of Pacific white shrimp fed is a labor-intensive process that has to be repeated several times daily. “I used to manually feed them at least three times a day—every day,” Wesolek said.

And the amount has to be just right. Excess feed degrades water quality, but underfed shrimp mature slowly, taking them longer to become high-value deep-fried jumbo shrimp. Wesolek took on the task of creating an automated feeding process using a distributed control system. He wanted something sophisticated enough to do the job right, but was easy to program because he would be doing the work himself.

After looking at a range of possibilities, Wesolek settled on a Wago 750-841 Programmable Fieldbus Controller with supporting digital output modules, relays, and power supply. “I reviewed other companies’ products, but Wago provided a lot of features for the price,” he said. “We needed something that would be easy to install, wire, and program. Wago provided that.”

The system disperses feed at predetermined intervals. Wesolek programmed the PLC with a feed curve to optimize shrimp growth and health. The system uses tank-specific input data, such as growth stage and amount of stock, to disperse precise amounts. All the data is available on a local HMI, plus an FTP client automatically backs up pertinent tank data on a local computer running an FTP server. The PLC can also send a message to the operator’s cell phone if an error halts the system.

The final product: Shrimp ready for processing and your dinner. Source: SSI

The final product: Shrimp ready for processing and your dinner. Source: SSI

Scaling up production

SSI is already looking for ways to expand the system’s capabilities. For instance, naturally occurring bacteria will consume excess feed, but they cause oxygen level and water quality degradation, impairing stock growth and well-being. SSI is calibrating the system to monitor tank properties closely, such as oxygen and pH levels, ensuring stock health and growth. SSI sees this automation as key to building a large-scale commercial facility capable of processing 5 million pounds of shrimp annually. Allen hopes his innovations will benefit the fledgling U.S. shrimp farming sector and general aquaculture.

“We’ve developed this so we can also sell it to others in the future, because it has pretty unique capabilities,” says Wesolek. “It also works with fish and large outdoor ponds. It’s scalable on many levels. We can feed a large amount to just one tank or pond, or feed many tanks all with the same system.”

SSI gets direct consumer feedback, because it maintains an on-site outlet. Wesolek enjoys the positive response from the customers: “People think it’s cool and are impressed that we are actually farming shrimp,” he says. “They see it as new and innovative. Most people also really like that our product is locally grown because they know where it comes from.”


Author Information

Paul Garcia is creative/technical writer for Wago Corporation. Reach him at paul.garcia@wago.com .




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.