There is a four-year development and construction process behind Samherji's new 9000 square metre groundfish processing factory, and the first landing to the new plant was made by the company's trawler Björg EA-7.

According to Gestur Geirsson, head of Samherji's land-based processing, the initial production went well, although staff will need to build up experience of using these new systems.

"It went better than we had dared hope," he said after the first day's production. "It's a challenge to start working with this new technology. It will take time to train staff who are learning to use this new technology and we're optimistic that this will go well."

It's no understatement to say that the new factory is a long way ahead of the game in terms of technology, with a host of leading suppliers involved in the systems that provide this plant with a very high level of automation. The initial stages of processing uses heading machines from Baader Ísland and filleting machines from Vélfag, with Valka portioning systems.

Valka's Ágúst Sigurðarson commented that their systems are prominent in the new factory, taking over as the fillets leave the filleting machines and taking these through a sophisticated and highly flexible set of channels with options for frozen and fresh production, including options for vacuum packs.

"Our systems handle everything from the filleting machines to packaging and the IQF freezers, including the software that manages the whole production process," he said. "We'll be at IceFish in 2021 to demonstrate what our systems are capable of."

The freezers are from Frost, while Samey provided both stacking robots and tub-handling robots. In addition, Skaginn 3X, Marel, Raftákn, Slippurinn and a number of other Icelandic companies have also played a part in raising the Dalvík factory's processing capacity to a new level.

The factory is already being seen as a showcase for the latest processing technology, and managers at Valka and other suppliers see this as a key element in their marketing strategies, with overseas visitors expected to take the opportunity to see for themselves what Icelandic tech companies can do.

"The production systems in this building are largely new," said Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson as the new factory started work.

"The development and arrangement of many aspects of production are also innovative. In this plant we are doing something that hasn't been done before, as we are taking automation further than has been seen up to now, which is designed to make working conditions lighter for the staff. In the design process we aimed specifically at providing staff with the best possible conditions, which includes taking into account light and sound levels. We see today as a milestone for the Icelandic fishing industry and for Icelandic technology," he said.

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