National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA)
National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA)
Shrimp harvesting and processing
Red Sea, Saudi Arabia
By replacing conventional cooling methods with DeepChill, NAQUA
achieves a three-hour window from harvesting until the shrimp are frozen, packed and
ready for shipping.
Labour-intensive manual handling of flake ice was limiting the ability of the National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA) to increase shrimp production at its 250 km2 shrimp farm on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia and to meet the demands of high-value European and Asian shrimp markets. Though flake ice had been used for many years, significant manual labour was needed to add the ice to transportation totes and an excessive amount of ice was required to achieve even distribution and uniform cooling of harvested shrimp.
NAQUA needed an automated chilling process that could provide faster, more even cooling to enable increased production of top-quality, grade-A, head-on shrimp and ensure that the facility could consistently achieve its high standards for product quality.
Limited handling and a uniform temperature are the pillars of high-quality marine products. Shrimp are harvested at 28⁰ and they must be chilled rapidly so that they can be processed and packed as soon as possible. Sunwell’s DeepChill Variable State Ice System automated NAQUA’s production and delivery. Since 1990, efficiency has improved so drastically that NAQUA has tripled its delivery of grade-A, head-on shrimp to European and Asian markets where the demand for high-quality shrimp is unparalleled. The gain in efficiency comes from eliminating manual ice handling.
DeepChill’s ice slurry is pumped directly into transportation totes, immediately surrounding and rapidly cooling the freshly harvested shrimp.
Dedicated DeepChill pumps and hoses are used at intervalled slurry injection points along the processing line to ensure regular and uniform temperature control.
As of 2017, six DeepChill units work together to produce a high-density, liquid-ice slurry that chills shrimp to near freezing temperature in minutes. Sunwell worked with NAQUA to facilitate a phased-in approach to installation, which meets current needs and can be expanded easily to accommodate future growth. Four DeepChill systems produce up to 220 tonnes of ice daily to cool harvested shrimp before transit to the processing plant. Two additional DeepChill systems operate at the plant to produce over 80 tonnes of ice slurry per day. The implementation of DeepChill at the NAQUA facility was accomplished with minimal disruption to existing operations and infrastructure.
The automated DeepChill system is integrated to the NAQUA production process, regulated by programmable logic controllers and is easily monitored and modified through a Human Machine Interface control panel. Each DeepChill unit is regularly producing crystals in the system’s core generator, while augers sweep regularly to prevent the formation of ice layers. The resultant pearl-like crystals are stored in silos on site until they are mixed with seawater and distributed via pumps and lines. Sunwell worked with NAQUA to customize ice-slurry consistencies for harvesting and processing for optimal preservation throughout the operation.
By replacing conventional cooling methods with DeepChill, NAQUA achieves a three-hour window from harvesting until the shrimp are frozen, packed and ready for shipping. DeepChill ice is cooling shrimp from 28oC at harvesting to a uniform temperature of 0oC in fewer than three minutes—three times faster than with conventional flake ice.
Making the switch to the ice slurry also reduces the temperature variation through the production line and, compared to flake ice, cools shrimp to a lower temperature prior to freezing. Since the shrimp are colder going into the freezer, the freezing time can be reduced—improving to a substantially higher quality of shrimp .
As cooling specialists, Sunwell understands that if a product can be cooled quickly with less temperature variation, the chances of spoilage decrease during handling. As an integral part of the plant upgrade, NAQUA proudly ranks among the biggest global shrimp producers.