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Huon Aquaculture has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to feed salmon in remote offshore farms via wireless network. With 100% network uptime required to ensure the solution’s success, Huon installed Sinefa’s network visibility and traffic shaping solution to ensure that the bandwidth requirements of critical production control software can be monitored, controlled and balanced against other core business applications. Sinefa has enabled a key business strategy for Huon, reducing operational costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars, improving employee safety and advancing their sustainability focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges

  • Configuring and maintaining a network to support reliable automation and remote control systems in offshore farming operations.
  • Applications required uptime, performance and capacity guarantees across all worksites.

Solution

  • Sinefa Layer 7 Network Traffic Visibility
  • Sinefa Traffic Shaping

Results

  • Provided visibility and control of network performance to guarantee 100% network uptime.
  • Facilitated automation and remote control of Huon’s farming operations, enabling Huon to move to offshore farming without compromising on employee safety.
  • Helped to enable automated feeding systems with subsequent improvements in feeding efficiency, substantial reductions in feed waste.
  • Contributed to improved, sustainable farming practices.

 

Huon Aquaculture is a vertically integrated seafood producer based in Tasmania. Recognised around the world for the quality of their salmon and the ingenuity of their operations, they’re committed to ethical and sustainable farming practices. One of Australia’s largest salmon producers, Huon employs approximately 500 people across more than 20 worksites throughout Australia.

Huon has developed a world first artificial intelligence (AI) solution which uses machine learning to automatically feed their salmon on remote offshore farms. Huon feeds its fish to appetite which means that these salmon eat when they’re hungry, not when they’re told to. This allows the fish to follow their natural behaviour and determine when and how much they feed.

The cutting edge AI solution – developed in partnership with industrial automation specialist Cromarty – tests to see whether the salmon are hungry and when they are full, tracking pellets in the water column during the feeding process.   

Challenge: 

The geographically disparate nature of Huon’s operations presents a significant challenge in relation to access and communications. Many of their offshore farms are between five and 15 kilometres from some of the most remote shorelines in Australia, and their hatcheries and nurseries are generally in regional areas with limited internet access and reliability.  

To ensure the success of their AI solution, Huon needed to ensure 100% network availability and guaranteed capacity across all sites. An interruption in service could cause the failure of various automated and robotic processes running throughout its operations. 

Huon partnered with TasmaNet (specialists in remote wireless networks) to create a private network across their Tasmanian sites. This network is shared by both corporate and operational staff to run applications including SAP, Microsoft Office and proprietary production control software.

Due to the catastrophic impact of network failure, Huon were looking for a solution that would give them better real-time visibility and control over network traffic.

“We needed a solution that would provide quality of service and allow us to manage the sharing of bandwidth across our business,” says Justin Thurley, IT Manager at Huon. “Our AI feeding solution allows us to feed all offshore pens at once from a central feed centre in Hobart. We need a high degree of communications control to monitor these sites, and our multiple high definition video feeds demand a lot of bandwidth.”

 

Solution:

“We conducted a thorough market search for potential solutions and shortlisted a number of providers,” says Justin. “A lot of the big brand offerings were far more elaborate than we needed, and priced fairly prohibitively. Sinefa’s Layer 7 network visibility and cloud management console was perfect – it met our technical and budgetary requirements exactly.”

Sinefa provided Huon with a device to test in their environment following initial discussions about their requirements. Impressed by the ease of configuration and the real-time visibility and control Sinefa’s products provided, Huon confirmed that Sinefa could play a key role in enabling their AI solution and contributing to their future growth strategy.  

Following a successful trial, Sinefa probes were configured and installed at each Huon worksite. This gave the IT team complete oversight into network traffic and performance, and the ability to monitor and control bandwidth across their network in real time.

Rollout was incredibly simple – the devices were pre-configured so it was literally a case of taking them to a site and plugging them in; downtime was negligible,” says Justin.

“The Sinefa team were very responsive – we had a test device within two weeks of our initial contact, and a complete solution that was ready to deploy within a month,” says Justin. “Dealing with them felt like an agile approach; we had great synergy in that regard.”  

 

The Results

A successful rollout has cemented Sinefa as a vital part of the Huon technology stack now and into the future.

Their network solution is a major enabler of technology that has had a significant impact for our business,” says Justin. “We’re the only company in the world that farm fish in this way, so it’s essential that we have confidence in the reliability and predictability of our network.”

“Having real-time insight into network traffic – and the ability to prioritise core business applications to optimise network performance – will allow us to really leverage our IT infrastructure to drive business growth. We can continue to create industry leading technology solutions knowing that we can balance the need for innovation with the requirement to provide a stable and reliable network for corporate users of SAP, MS Office, and related production control software.”

Looking forward, Sinefa will continue to support key deliverables of Huon’s business strategy including exploring new AI feeding solutions for other fish species and expanding their offshore farming footprint.

“The ease of configuration and rollout, and the simplicity and effectiveness of the Sinefa solution mean that we can focus on building technology solutions to take our business into the future, without getting bogged down in network restrictions,” says Justin.