Suppliers' News

Aquaculture Software DownUnder

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Aqua Assist  is continuing to grow its presence as the premier supplier of management software for the aquaculture industry in Australia.  Based in Hobart, Tasmania, and initially established to provide software solutions for the Atlantic salmon industry based in the cool waters around the island, the company’s products now include solutions for abalone farms, tuna farms, hatcheries, seafood processors and aquaculture feed manufacturers.


Company founder, Rob Bronstein, had his first taste of the aquaculture market some years ago when he developed some software to help a local aquaculture feed manufacturing plant, which is now operated by Skretting Australia, to track and manage its raw materials and products.


Having developed an interest in aquaculture and also having a family association with a local salmon farm, Rob established Aqua Assist which then developed Salmon Assist, working with Huon Aquaculture Company, which operates a sea cage based Atlantic salmon farm at Hideaway Bay, south of Hobart. Salmon Assist provides complete stock management for the farm, tracking fish by year class and cage, and catering for grading and other transfers between cages. Fish growth and feed are both monitored and size prediction, based on feed conversion ratios (FCRs), is a feature of the software.  The tracking of feed batches and fish genealogy enables traceability to be maintained right across the farm. Other features of the software include cage management, fish health, mortality recording, environmental monitoring, harvesting and sales.


The software is menu driven (see below) and intuitive to use. It provides a single view of the whole farm in the one package through its comprehensive range of online and printed reports. While Salmon Assist has been developed for cage based Atlantic salmon farming, it can easily be adapted for other finfish, whether they are farmed in cages, tanks or ponds.


The waters of southern Australia are also conducive to the growth of abalone (green lip and black lip), and Aqua Assist collaborated with Great Southern Waters, a land based abalone farm on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, for the development of Abalone Assist. Similar in its capabilities to Salmon Assist, Abalone Assist also provides menu based management of the whole abalone farm. In this case, spawning, fertilization and hatch outs are also tracked as part of the stock management process.


Another popular species for farming (or in this case, ranching) in Australian waters is the southern blue fin tuna. Aqua Assist worked with Australian Fishing Enterprises, the largest tuna producer in Australia, based at Port Lincoln in South Australia, to develop Tuna Assist. Again similar in concept to the other products, but allowing for the different nature of tuna farming, Tuna Assist enables the management of quotas for the capture of wild tuna. The software is also integrated with scales (important since tuna are sold by individual weight) and other monitoring equipment.  The quota management component of the package could become a separate product for fishing fleets in the future.


Hatchery Assist is a package for the management of fin fish hatcheries and has been used to date for Atlantic salmon, rainbow and brown trout and Murray cod. It can also manage fish to grow out stage. The management of brood stock, purchase intakes, fertilization and spawning are all possible using the software.


Process Assist is a package for the management of seafood processing. It tracks suppliers, orders, customers and consignments, again integrating with scales.


After Aqua Assist was formed, the feed software that really started it all formally became Feed Assist. This package tracks raw materials and their suppliers as well as manufactured feed and its customers. It also interfaces to the feed formulation software and the SCADA system that manages the actual manufacturing.

Aqua Assist has also recently teamed up with Adelaide based Tracking Labels and Consulting to integrate the Aqua Assist software products with the Denso range of rugged, portable data collection units.  These units can accept data keyed into templates or scan bar codes (which can also be generated by all of the Aqua Assist products); the data can then be uploaded into the appropriate Aqua Assist software. Their use will speed up data entry and eliminate the data transcription errors which often result from hand written data. Being portable, the units can also be used right at the point where the data are collected.


Using its own database modeling and code generation tool, called Model Assist, the company is able to rapidly develop and maintain its software products. It now has several customers for each of its products and word of mouth has been a strong factor in the company’s growth and expansion. Discussions are also underway in regard to the development of products for other species such as oysters, mussels and prawns.


For more details contact Robert Bronstein, Managing Director, Aqua Assist Pty Ltd

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