Commercial Fishing is difficult, whether it’s lobster, oyster, crab, or the particularly interesting geoduck. You don’t have to spend much time with a fisherman to figure that out. Not only are they exposed to the elements, but the actual work of hauling in traps and banding these creatures by hand is grueling. There has been a call from many in the industry to develop more ergonomic equipment. We compiled this information in a paper, titled “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The Lobsterman’s Painful Reality” (which can be read here).
We are quite familiar with the seafood industry, which is why we decided to take on the task of building a manual banding machine. We are not the first to venture into this territory, but we are proud to say that we are the first to produce a fully-tested and approved machine!
Early on in the development stages, we would often hear, “I have seen this machine before, and I know it’s a waste of my time.” Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that so many have tried to develop a banding machine and failed. We can’t blame the fishermen for being skeptical. We saw this as a unique challenge to overcome, and it was for that reason that we decided to THOROUGHLY test the machine prior to launch. In the two years of R & D that we have under our belt, we have a significant amount of data to work with.
To begin, we pinpointed the lobster fishing capital of the world, and decided that if it could work here – it could work anywhere! Our machine has been out on multiple trips to LFA 33, 34, and 35. If you’d like to see a short video about one of the many trips to Nova Scotia, go to: https://youtu.be/yMMDkwrKnc8
What kind of things did we learn from our R&D efforts?
- The machine must be able to band as fast as or faster than an experienced manual bander.
- The machine’s design and overall foot print must be minimal.
- The housing and reeled tubing must be able to withstand the harsh elements.
- It must allow for consistent processing – from sun up to sun down.
We are proud to say that as of today, we have successfully met those requirements, and more.
The many trips to Nova Scotia have proven that the machine can consistently process lobsters, but how would we know if it was the fastest? We would have to put it up against the very best. That’s how we heard about the Digby Bash in Digby, Nova Scotia. Each year, a competition is held to see who is the fastest and most efficient lobsterman (and woman)! Who better to go up against our machine to prove that it can “hold its own?” So, we took the machine to the Digby Lobster Bash. We put it up against the winners of this competition and found that indeed, the machine was as fast as (and faster)!
How about the overall design of the machine? What would be considered “minimal foot print” on small boat vs. a big boat? We put it on a wide variety of boats, and the boat captains were happiest with a machine that fit into their normal processing areas, and had the versatility to move from one side to another – depending on the setup. The machine stands at 19” x 17” x 9” deep. It is made of precision machined components and a watertight sealed enclosure made of stainless steel. The modular design also makes troubleshooting and part replacement a breeze! That makes it the perfect size, shape, and design no matter the setup.
The Lobster Banding Machine is finally here, but we didn’t stop there.
In 2019, we also developed another iteration of the machine for oyster banding! We presented the machine to several of our clients in the oyster industry. We simply asked that they test it out in their operation, and report back the findings. The customers who used it, didn’t want to send it back! They reported an increase in efficiencies which lowered their overhead costs. Needless to say, they purchased the machines and have adopted them into their daily operations.