The TUNASCAN system also includes several ultrasonic sensors that trigger the Matrox AltiZ to begin 3D capture only when there is a fish available to scan. Special low-temperature infrared sensors are responsible for monitoring the temperature of each fish and assuring the proper behavior of the system.
Fishing for results
Operator interaction with the TUNASCAN system is minimal. An easy-to-use interface lets the operator choose output categories by species and weight, so that, in addition to sorting by species, the same species of tuna can be sorted into different groups according to their weight. TUNASCAN automatically sorts every incoming fish into the selected categories by container. When a container is full, the system informs the operator so that the full container can be removed from the line and a new one added to the operation. TUNASCAN manages multiple containers, automatically assigning a new container for output while the full container is being replaced, ensuring the system remains in continuous operation.
TUNASCAN systems are deployed in harsh environments and regularly exposed to cold, salt, dirt, fish scales, and humidity. The systems operate continuously, leaving very little opportunity for maintenance or calibration. “One of our installations has been working up to 20 hours a day, six days a week for almost three years, with barely any maintenance required,” Sánchez Carratalá smiles. “All that, and with accuracy rates approaching 100%! Our clients could not be more pleased with the system.”
In the swim of things
Development of the TUNASCAN system involved about 20 individuals, including computer engineers, physicists, and mathematicians, among others, all with extensive experience in machine vision systems. The TUNASCAN project has been underway for nearly five years; as part of Marexi’s commitment to continuous improvement of their products, it has been regularly improved and optimized over that time. “We faced some challenges at the start of the project, mainly because it is a very complex and disruptive system, and we needed to guarantee its robustness and efficacy. We are really happy with the assistance offered by Matrox Imaging’s technical support team, as well as the help received from Grupo Alava,” Sánchez Carratalá reports, “and we know we can always count on getting help from both of those teams. We’ve solved our development problems thanks to them, and now the equipment is a reality and available to customers.”
Building on the success of the TUNASCAN upgrade, Marexi is currently working on a different project for the fish industry that also integrates a Matrox AltiZ, along with Matrox Imaging Library (MIL) X
software. Marexi has four other projects in development that incorporate MIL X, and they anticipate starting three more in 2021. A notable example of a project already being commercialized is called UVPress, which uses the deep-learning capabilities in MIL X to properly identify, count, and evaluate anisakis infections in fish samples. Thus far in 2021, Marexi has received inquiries from many international clients about the TUNASCAN system; Sánchez Carratalá notes that “commercial negotiation periods for this type of product can take upwards of a year, as they are often dependent on government permits, and other factors outside the client company itself. We hope that 2022 will be the year of commercialization in which we can build multiple units.”
Marexi reports that their current clients with TUNASCAN installations are very satisfied with the system and value it provides their businesses. “Matrox Imaging is an industry-leading company with its own development and manufacturing capacity that allows its solutions to always be at the forefront of innovation. Their robust products are perfect for the industrial demands of our clients. In short, Matrox Imaging is a reliable partner and supplier that meets the quality and service criteria Marexi wants to transmit to our customers,” says Sánchez Carratalá.
“Our TUNASCAN application really leverages the strengths of a Matrox AltiZ-based system,” Sánchez Carratalá concludes. “Not only do the sensors deliver very accurate 3D data at really high conveyor speeds while dealing with a challenging product like frozen tuna, but the Matrox AltiZ functions optimally in extremely harsh environments and works for really long periods of time without maintenance.”