Greek software maker Integrated Information Systems S.A. (i2s) has fish farm customers in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, all using their aquaculture management software aquaManager to enable them to grow their products more efficiently, cut costs, schedule feedings, and monitor water quality, among other variables.
“The development of aquaManager started on 1998,” i2s CEO Kostas Seferis told Aquaculture North America. “The first version was released in September 2000 and by the end of the year it had been adopted by a number of small and medium aquaculture companies. The big customers started to use our system from the beginning of 2002.”
The aquaculture management software space continues to diversify with major players like Akva Group’s FishTalk solution competing with well-established players like i2s’s aquaManager and new startups like Cloud-based Aquanetix, giving fish farmers more choices to explore in the aquaculture management software market.
And some observers say it will be just a matter of time when traditional business software makers like German giant SAP, and the US-based Oracle, will start offering their business-to-business and supply chain management software packages tailored to the aquaculture industry.
Until then, existing aquaculture management software makers like i2s, Akva, and Aquanetix, compete for large and small aquaculture businesses looking to get an edge by optimizing their complex fish husbandry operations on their computers and mobile devices.
“There are many good solutions in the market” admitted Seferis. “If we consider systems that are in the same level like aquaManager, I think it is Fishtalk from AKVA and Ocea Mercatus.”
The nuts & bolts
aquaManager is an integrated software package that collects data from each end of the fish farm production chain from broodstock to live food and larvae to nursery and on to grow-out facilities.
“The software has two interfaces, a Microsoft Windows client and an ultra-light rich web client, developed as HTML5/JS application,” Seferis explained. “The Windows client can be used only in Windows machines. The web client works in all operating systems.”
But it’s the background applications that offer the real solutions for the hatchery and farm managers. Production planning, cost analysis, and inventory management apps along with nutrition, water and fish health analysis and reports offer aquaManager customers complete control and awareness of their product’s lifecycle.
“There is also a mobile version that supports all major platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Phone,” said Seferis. “So the customers can use our system from the device of their choice.
“Finally, there are mobile solutions for the production personnel that allows them to register on-line and real-time all the main production information (feedings, behavior of the population, alarms, mortalities, environmental parameters, etc.),” he explained.
This is not just a registration tool, he added. It ensures that all critical business information is captured and entered into the system.
“Rich data capture in real time improves data quality and reduces problem solving time,” he said. “It provides the production workforce with a new level of communications freedom and empowers them to accomplish goals since they have access to all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions.”
The application can be installed either on the premises or in a private cloud. If the customer wants to use it on the basis of SAAS (Software as a Service is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the web, aquaManager can prepare everything for them and just provide them access to a private cloud, he explained.
“It depends also on the security policy of each company,” Seferis added. “Big players want to have full control of their data so they prefer to install the system in private clouds that they setup and control, without giving access to anyone else.”
Over the near future Seferis says his company has plans to allow the software solution to handle larger data sets.
“Aquaculture companies are drowning in data but starving for knowledge,” he explained. “We want to make a big step forwards in this direction and help companies to transform data into knowledge, and use this knowledge to improve efficiency, increase profitability and do business in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. We are doing a lot of research in this area, in cooperation with highly respectable academic institutions in Europe and soon we will be able to publish extremely important results.”
He said they don’t have much to add in terms of technology or functionality but we plan to do a lot in the areas of big data and data mining.
“Part of this effort is also related to data collection, in order to be able to capture and analyze all kinds of data that influence the production,” Seferis explained. “We have developed our own data loggers that are specifically designed for aquaculture; they are autonomous, flexible, low-cost and highly configurable and compatible with all the major brands of sensors.” He said he wants to provide the market with data acquisition solutions that are easy to deploy, easily maintained and not very expensive so companies can collect and control all the valuable information that now is difficult to capture.
“We like our job and have passion for technology – our target is always to improve, provide better products to our customer and help them to become more competitive,” Seferis said. “We’ll see what will be the result of this.”
— Erich Luening