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Outsourcing

How to plan a network that can withstand the Norwegian ocean gap

For the seafood manufacturer Pelagia, it is important to be able to concentrate on production and further development, and it is not optimal to handle daily IT operations themselves.
Godt samarbeid: Frode Vatne (t.v.) og Dag Vaaland samarbeider godt med å utføre IT-strategien som Pelagia har lagt.

For the seafood manufacturer Pelagia, it is crucial to be able to concentrate on production and further development, and it is not optimal to handle daily IT operations themselves. Therefore, they have chosen to hand over the entire process to Visolit, which has been involved ever since its inception in 2014.

- Pelagia simply has no IT department, Visolit is our IT department, explains Pelagia's IT manager, Frode Vatne.

When a ship loaded with fish is on its way to the processing facilities, downtime is not an option. - There are systems that really should work IT-wise because otherwise, the load goes from being human food to becoming animal food, says Vatne.

The IT strategy starts with the fishing boat

With just over 22,000 inhabitants and a location north of Scotland, Shetland is not known to be the most connected place on the planet.

- It is such a place where you do not have mobile coverage all the way from the airport and into our facility, says Vatne.

From day one, the conditions for the company's IT strategy have been dictated by the open sea. With a focus on production in five different countries, each with its own challenges, Pelagia has been working systematically from the start to meet the unique challenge.

- If the lines to the facility in Shetland should go down, we have ensured that the operation can continue regardless of the downtime.

Fish entering one of the 28 plants Pelagia operates must be processed as soon as possible, either in the form of freezing or for other distribution. If not, the fish will move down the quality ranking.

- If a fishing boat comes in with 500 tonnes of fish, and the network is down at, for example, the Shetland plant, it will soon be costly.


The operation is maintained - no matter what

- In Norway, there is a fish exchange where people can auction and sell their catch. The winner of the auction gets the boat to the facility, and if the network and the control of the production equipment do not work, there is no reason to attend the auction. Therefore, all lines of Pelagia's facilities are secured with redundancy, both in the local infrastructure and out to the rest of the world.

- If the lines to the facility in Shetland should go down, we have ensured that the operation can continue regardless of the downtime. You may not be surfing as usual from the office's PC, but the operation is maintained, says Vatne.

The operation, which is very seasonal, can be difficult to predict and depends a lot on weather and wind conditions on the most important fishing areas in the North Sea.

- The conditions can be quite unpredictable, considering that the purchase of the fish can happen late in the day and trigger the need to hire seasonal workers the next day, explains customer manager Dag Vaaland in Visolit.

Visolit as a supplier has had an extra exciting task with the exotic locations and strict requirements for production uptime:

- There are independent fishing boats that fish and who report the catch to the auction at Norsk Sildesalgslag. Prices are very dependent on factors such as price developments in South America, explains Vaaland.

Good cooperation: Frode Vatne (t.v.) and Dag Vaaland cooperate well with executing the IT strategy that Pelagia has laid.
Good cooperation: Frode Vatne (t.v.) and Dag Vaaland cooperate well with executing the IT strategy that Pelagia has laid.


The whole world as a market

Although Pelagia has their purchasing bases in the North Atlantic, the market for sale spread throughout the globe. It adds another condition to the list: the requirement for efficient distribution.

- Most of the sales take place abroad, there are enormous quantities we are talking about here, says Vatne.

To handle these huge amounts, Pelagia has invested heavily in the plants that handle the products:

- We have big freezer capacity in Northern Europe and we're constantly trying to modernise operations across the entire organisation, says Vatne.

Together with Visolit, they have now built a solid foundation for meeting the demands of an industry in rapid development and fierce international competition.

- For us in Visolit, it is about building a solid foundation that Pelagia can build its services on. It is common to all plants, and allows you to quickly come up with a new plant and solve problems that arise, says Vaaland.

Operative in a few days

A powerful standardised infrastructure provides benefits that appear in slightly untraditional areas, of which business development is one of them. Pelagia has grown strongly since its inception and is still heavily involved in acquisition processes. When a facility is purchased, it is important to get it into the rest of the business as quickly as possible.

- We recently bought a plant, where sales were completed in June. Early August, all of IT had to be transferred and operational, including e-mail, network lines and cloud services. It went fast, but the goals were reached, says Vatne.

Now they look forward to the next task: Robotisation and the Internet of Things (IoT) - which is no longer a buzzword at Pelagia. This has become the everyday life of an innovative food business. IoT is about linking devices over the internet, letting the devices talk to us as users, with applications and with each other.

- There are many facilities, and very much happening at the same time. Some of the facilities we operate have started with the robotisation already, the same with IoT in various parts of the production. We work with process optimisation, logistics and work on optimising the information flow as a continuous process. It frees up time internally in the business, where we work in teams across facilities and countries to develop further, Vatne concludes.