SpecTUNA: Automated modular system for cutting and classifying frozen tuna using hyperspectral characterization

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Project abstract

Canned tuna is the most consumed fish product in the EU and by far, the most important product of the fish-product canning industry. European tuna sector is vertically integrated, bringing together fishing companies, canners and retailers. It directly provides 20 140 jobs and creates 60 660 indirect jobs in supporting sectors. However, this sector is fully traditional, and mechanisation levels are very low.

Canned tuna is mostly prepared by pre-processing tuna, cook it and fill the cans. The loins are extracted from whole frozen tuna pieces. Currently the tuna preparation step in which the loins are extracted is done manually. It involves the usage of industrial saws, with frozen, bulky and slippery material, which entails high risk for the operators.

SpecTUNA is an industrial machine that will enable to automatize the tuna preparation step prior to canning and will provide information of the quality characterisation of each of the pieces by using hyperspectral image analysis, in a continuous, non-destructive, one-by-one analysis, with a processing capacity of 180 tuna units per hour.

It counts with four modules: A bin picking robotic arm picks each tuna and takes them to the cutting module, where they are cut until the loins are extracted. Then, they are analysed using NIRs and hyperspectral image analysis, obtaining biometric parameters and exerting quality control of each piece with non-destructive methods. Finally it is classified depending on each piece’s volume, weight, or according to a nutritional characteristic (more/less salty, fat content, etc.)

This machinery is a great leap forward in the state-of-the-art and is the result of several previous R&D and industrial innovation projects carried out jointly (ANFACO + EMENASA). Currently, we need to fine-tune its design, calibrate the hyperspectral image analysis (INFAIMON) and scale up its capacity to meet industrial needs, in order to validate it in a full-scale industrial environment in LA GONDOLA’s plant, and ultimately attain the final design of its commercial version, which will be marketed by EMENASA.

In the future, once this technology will have been validated for tuna processing, it can be adapted for other species (hake, cod, salmon, etc.) which will lead to technological improvements for the entire fishing sector, from extractive to aquaculture.

SpecTUNA will automate the tuna preparation step prior to canning and provide information on the quality characterisation of each of the pieces by using hyperspectral image analysis and robotics.

Project duration
01/01/2019- 31/12/2021
Project acronym
Call ID
EASME/EMFF/2017/ - Sustainable Blue Economy
Asociación Nacional De Fabricantes De Conservas De Pescados Y Mariscos – Centro Técnico Nacional De Conservación De Productos De La Pesca, ANFACO (Spain)
Emenasa Industria y Automatismo, S.A., EMENASA (Spain)
Infaimon Unipessoal Lda, INFAIMON (Portugal)
Fábrica de Conservas La Góndola, S.A., LA GONDOLA (Portugal)
EU contribution
1.117.503,00 EUR

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