Tasmanian salmon operation keeps its fish cool with ABB softstarters

Tassal upgrades the motor control center in Australia’s biggest land-based salmon hatchery with ABB Softstarters, ensuring the continuous operation of its water chillers.

A major producer of salmon and prawns for the Australian and international markets, Tassal has found a more reliable solution to ensure that the critical equipment in its hatchery system remains at the proper temperature and operates without failures.

Based in Tasmania, Tassal is a salmon-farming company founded in 1986 that breeds, hatches, farms, processes, and sells Atlantic salmon. It employs more than 1,400 workers at more than 20 sites, including two hatcheries.

Its state-of-the-art Rookwood Hatchery is the biggest land-based salmon nursery in Australia, with the capacity to produce eight million salmon smolt per year. The water temperature is regulated to control the growth of the fish, with a constant temperature needed to maintain ideal growth rates.

Due to voltage spikes in the power supply, the hatchery had experienced a fire in its motor control center, where three compressors on water chillers cool down ground water.  

To get its hatchery operational again, Tassal chose to upgrade its motor control center with Softstarters from ABB. Engineers installed three new 200kW PSTX Softstarters, along with ABB flowmeters to measure oxygen levels in the water. A premium Softstarter was set in place to assist with load shedding, to lower the inrush current by around 50%, and to look after the supply network.

“ABB’s PSTX Softstarters are extremely reliable and a good fit for the needs of our hatchery, helping to prevent costly loss of operation,” said Tassal Rookwood Electrical Maintenance Manager, Mike Sweeney. “The Softstarters were installed with minimal downtime, and the user-friendly HMI (Human Machine Interface) screen makes the diagnosis of any faults much easier. The ABB after-sales service network, which could help with commissioning the devices, was another important factor in our choice of supplier.”

Softstarter PSTX devices offer integrated torque control to reduce electrical stresses and spikes, thereby increasing safety and the lifetime of the motor. They optimize starting currents that, with conventional starters, can be hard on motors. Softstarters are equipped with fault displays in plain English text on screens that are easy to read and understand. A single unit contains everything from bypass contactor to overload protection, eliminating the need for external components.

“ABB Softstarters were proposed during the design stage as the ideal solution to support load management and continuous power supply within the hatchery,“ said ABB Channel Partner Cromarty, which helps commission products for Tassal. “Tassal was very pleased with the installation and the impact on the business. Thanks to ABB’s global footprint, combined with our local knowledge, ABB partners were also on hand for technical support.”

With its new Sofstarters, the hatchery will be able to maintain the proper temperature and water quality, resulting in an increase in output. ABB also equipped the Rookwood hatchery with generator backup to avoid future downtime from any power issues.

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