French startup Westair creates new automated feeding technology for seafood farmers
Roughly one year ago, Westair founder Sébastien Termet found himself tinkering with the concept for a new aquaculture feeding device in his garage in France per the request of a frustrated fish farmer.
Feed distribution solutions and techniques had left something to be desired for the farmer, and Termet was determined to develop a system better suited to meet the needs of a complex, evolving aquaculture industry. When Termet emerged from his garage in 2017 with the prototype for what would come to be the Multizone system – a machine capable of efficiently transporting feed in precise dosages – he recognized the innovation’s vast potential across several industries, and the company Westair was born.
After a year in business, the Brittany, France-based startup has accumulated 11 dedicated employees who work diligently to uphold and share Termet’s technical vision, Westair’s marketing leader Christine Perrot Cornu told SeafoodSource this week during the 2018 Seafood Processing Global event, being held in Brussels, Belgium.
“We believe very much in our product, and our company,” Cornu said. Her colleague, Claire Corp, adamently agreed.
The company has developed a number of patented innovations to handle all types of products, achieving excellent dosing accuracy with high hygienic conditions, Westair Business Manager Henri Herlédan explained. Industries beyond just aquaculture, such as the pharmaceutical industry and the general food processing industry, can apply Westair’s many innovations, he said.
Westair’s Multizone technology is primarily aimed at seafood farmers, helping them to “replicate natural feeding patterns everyday,” according to company literature. The technology facilities the optimization of pellets as well as the reduction of fish loss and time spent in tanks, all while improving tank homogeneity, Westair said. The innovation can be accessed remotely via desktop computers, tablets, and/or smartphones, allowing for real-time feeding and data collection. Aquaculture operations that adopt the system can also customize the size and amount of pipes applied, making it a highly accessible solution for farms small and large, said Herlédan.
The Multiways three-way valve within the Multizone system 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," Westair said. Each valve has a sensor that measures throughput to ensure that there is no over- or under-feeding, and the CleanPipe feature keeps the entire system clean.
"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," Westair's Sebastien Termet said in a prepared statement.
"We design our equipment so it takes the best possible care of your fish," he added.
A nursery located close to the Netherlands is the first operation to trial Multizone, and exists right now as the showcase for the technology.
“It will be our showcase and our first commercial, in a quite closed field of activity where all the actors know each other,” Termet said. The company founder is confident that the innovation will promote a “gain of 20 percent [in] productivity and substantial savings in food.”
Currently, the company is focusing its efforts in France, which has roughly 450 aquaculture farms within its borders, but could eye more of Europe in the future, said Cornu.
Westair is exhibiting at Seafood Processing Global from 24 to 26 April in Hall 8, at stand #8-4791.