Multiways valve at the heart of Multizone feeding system
Why make things complex when they can be simple? That’s the question French engineer Sébastien Termet asked himself when he was approached by a fish farmer to come up with a feeding system.
The first Westair product was built in his garage, and the unique solution he came up with was delivered to the customer – who was delighted with the results. That was in 2017 and now Westair’s workshop in Brittany designs and builds systems for the transfer of a variety of substances via pipes, along with equipment for dosing, cleaning and pipe inspection, as well as providing after-sales service.
The Multizone automatic feeding system for aquaculture is a direct development of that very first system built in Sébastien’s garage, the key to which is the unique Multiways three-way valve that makes it possible to route a variety of powders and liquids through a network to deliver feed in precise quantities as required, based around the concept of real-time feeding.
Feed passes from storage silos to the DosAir dosing management system, which routes all feed along a single pipeway fitted with Multiways valves, leading to each cage or tank in the farm, with options for one or more feeders for each tank. Each valve has a sensor that measures throughput to ensure that there is no over- or under-feeding.
“To keep the system clean, we came up with the CleanPipe,” Sébastien Termet said.
“This is a mechanical crawler that passes through the pipes in between feed deliveries, and it automatically removes condensation or any sludge left in the pipes, making sure that they remain clean all the time.”
The smart ideas that go into Westair’s systems don’t end there, as the package includes a control and management system based around a single PC coupled to a pocket controller that can be used to stop and start feeding processes.
“The touchscreen PC is loaded with all the software needed to manage the whole site, while the pocket controller is also ideal for remote locations,” Sébastien Termet said.
“There are also remote control options and site managers can control, monitor and check systems and equipment status via remote PC, tablet or smartphone,” he said and explained that the Multizone system collates data from a variety of sensors throughout an aquaculture installation, measuring oxygen and NH4 levels, temperature and water turbidity, and it communicates constantly with the feeder software, interrupting the feed process and flagging up an alert is parameters are exceeded.
“The intention is to replicate natural feeding patterns as far as possible, and to minimise losses of both feed and fish, and we aim to minimise power consumption while also being able to offer consultation with our partners to provide options for utilising renewables, such as solar, wind and hydro-electric power sources,” he said.
There is increasing interest in the Multiways valve that is at the heart of the Multizone system from a variety of industry sectors that require quick and effective transport of powders, grains or liquids. The advantages of the system are attracting interest from a range of industry sectors that include agri-foods, alcohol, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil and petroleum, as the possibilities of this technology are quickly becoming apparent.
Each Multiway Valve is fitted with an standard electric motor, connections for analog and digital sensors, and a number of ports to allow highly flexible configurations.
“Several Multiways Valves can be combined,” Sébastien Termet said. “An eight-way valve combined with a three-way valve provides 24 possible combinations for routing products to and from different destinations. This means that industrial processes can reduce the number of pipe runs needed.”
He explained that the 6-bar pneumatic system is suitable for pellets and powders, and for all fluids, and volumes can be managed precisely by combining this with management software and a dosing installation that weighs batches to be transferred.
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