A NEW grading machine developed in South Australia is a simple and affordable option for oyster growers to sort their product.
Manufacturing company Oystek has developed the hi-tech 3D oyster grader which it is marketing to the international oyster industry.
The “G5” grader uses three-dimensional technology to measure the oysters - and retain the data - before delivering each oyster down one of eight grading chutes.
Oystek owner Peter Johannsen recently displayed the G5 – which retails at just under $100,000 - at the World Aquaculture Society Expo held in Adelaide in June.
“We had terrific feedback to the machine,’’ Johannsen said. “We were approached by two international trade show representatives from Korea and New Orleans (USA) asking us to display the grader at their shows.
“We have also had strong inquiries from China and Europe.’’
The predecessor of the G5 was successfully sold in the United States and throughout Australia.
This allows growers to monitor and compare their growing, processing and handling methods and achieve best practice outcomes.
“The G5 is a huge upgrade of the previous model,’’ Johannsen said.
“Now we have reached this level of sophistication with the machine I expect interest and sales on a much larger scale.
“It provides a very simple and affordable option for oyster growers to sort their product. It can grade more than five oysters per second using line scan cameras.
“It also keeps record of the number of oysters sorted.
“Most growers are grading by hand or using low tech options, so there was a definite need for an automated grading process.’’
As the oysters fall they pass through a custom-made four line, scan camera array and an electronic detector that measures their speed.
The four images are analysed by software, generating a 3D model to determine the length, width, thickness, shape and volume of each oyster.
From there the oysters are directed into one of eight output tubes.
“The G5 has been a long time coming, due entirely to the lack of finance to develop this model,’’ Johannsen said.
“But with the help of a $50,000 grant through the Innovation Voucher program run by the (South Australian) state government I was finally able to complete the project.”
Retaining the data is an extremely important aspect of the G5, he said. “This allows growers to monitor and compare their growing, processing and handling methods and achieve best practice outcomes.’’
The oyster industry in South Australia has a turnover of around $40 million a year with 100 growers across the state that directly employs 1000 people.
Most are family-operated businesses based on the Eyre Peninsula between Ceduna and Cowell.