Entering unchartered waters more than a decade ago, Aker BioMarine’s unconventional approach to krill harvesting and ship-to-shore logistics were dismissed as foolhardy and not financially viable. Ten years on, the company has set the industry standard for best practices in krill harvesting and achieved record efficiency.
Aker BioMarine operates its own cargo transport ship that brings semi-finished krill products from Antarctic waters to the company’s logistics hub in Montevideo, Uruguay. From 2014 to 2016, the per-ton cost of Montevideo offloading was slashed by 22 percent. The efficiency team leaders – Tore Hetland, Aker BioMarine’s Logistics and Operations Manager; Robert Ernstsen, Montevideo Warehouse Manager; and Sverre Johansen, Production and Operations Advisor – share with us their three success criteria.
“We made full transparency the norm for all Montevideo cost elements; specificity helped us trim cost-sensitive decisions such as Sunday work. Secondly, offload planning had to begin several weeks in advance; and thirdly, we made sure to have Aker BioMarine personnel overseeing the entire offload.”
Aker BioMarine reinvented the entire mechanics of krill and at-sea production. Along with inventing a new way to gently bring krill onboard, the company fine-tunes how long the factory trawlers are at sea, the size of their nets, towing speed, and how krill oil is extracted. “Aker BioMarine did not become the leader by leaving anything to chance,” Tore Hetland summarizes.
Fortune does, however, favor the brave. "There’s no cheap way to fish krill in the Antarctic, only the expensive way. It’s all or nothing, and we were committed enough to go all in, says Matts Johansen, CEO at Aker BioMarine.
The most recent multi-million-dollar decision is the company’s investment in its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Houston, Texas. Owning the entire value chain, from harvesting to end-customer, ensures full transparency and a unique ability to optimize operations.
"We quickly realized we were better off producing the krill oil ourselves and that we must invest in technology to deliver next-generation Superba Krill Oil products," says Johansen.
Reconstruction at the Houston plant started in 2014; in late 2015, the 180,000-square-foot facility began producing "the best possible quality krill oil at the right cost" as Johansen puts it.
With the final element of its supply chain owned and operated by Aker BioMarine, the company could confidently proclaim complete control over operations – from catch to product.
Traceability is very important in our markets and being able to trace each and every end-product back to where it was fished is, frankly, priceless.
"People want to know what they’re consuming these days; they want to know what their dogs are eating and they want to know what the salmon they’re eating was fed on," Johansen concludes.
"There’s no cheap way to fish krill in the Antarctic; only an expensive way! It’s all or nothing, and we are consistently committed to going all the way."
Matts Johansen, CEO, Aker biomarine