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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cortlandt

Navigating The Complexities of Maintenance in RAS Aquaculture: A Fixaible Solution

RAS Aquaculture Salmon

Aquaculture, particularly Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), is, at the very least, a complex operation of sustainable fish farming in an enclosed facility separated from the environment around it. These controlled environments promise efficiency but have unique challenges, especially concerning equipment maintenance.

The High Stakes of RAS Maintenance

RAS operations have intricacies that need to be found in traditional fish farming. Everything is orchestrated with technology's aid, from precise oxygen regulation to the intricate dance of pH balancing and water temperature.

While creating a controlled and optimized environment, this dance of technology comes with its vulnerabilities. With so many critical processes reliant on machinery, the stakes for maintenance become exceptionally high. A small oversight or a delay in addressing a technical issue doesn't just represent a technical glitch. In the world of RAS, it can rapidly escalate to a critical, system-wide failure, jeopardizing the entire stock and causing significant economic losses.

This is where the analogy of the "Achilles' heel" comes into play. The machinery that makes RAS operations efficient and sustainable also presents its most significant potential point of failure and the need for impeccable, timely maintenance and troubleshooting.

Customized Equipment in RAS Operations

The push for continuous refinement and innovation is palpable in the dynamic realm of RAS. Given the distinctive needs of each aquaculture operation, there's a trend towards equipment customization, sculpted precisely for specific requirements. While such tailored solutions present the allure of superior efficiency and precision, they also bring forth challenges.

These systems encapsulate the vision of aquaculture's future: environmentally sustainable, spatially efficient, and reasonable resource utilization. However, this progressive approach leans heavily on sophisticated equipment that, although technologically advanced, may have yet to undergo rigorous long-term testing in diverse conditions.

  • The Intricacies of New Equipment: With new technologies come new challenges. RAS operations often integrate equipment at the pinnacle of current engineering capabilities. These devices, whether they control water quality, oxygen levels, or temperature, are complex by design, serving multifaceted roles within the farm's ecosystem.

  • Uncharted Territories: Since many RAS-specific devices are relatively new to the market, they have yet to go through the decades of field testing that more traditional equipment has. This means there's a potential for unforeseen issues to arise, particularly when subjected to the relentless demands of a 24/7 operational environment.

  • The Need for Swift Adaptation: When dealing with cutting-edge machinery, technicians must be quick learners, always ready to adapt. An unforeseen hiccup in a piece of state-of-the-art equipment isn’t just a technical challenge; it's a race against time where the health and well-being of the farm's aquatic life hang in the balance.

  • Specialized Knowledge: Every custom solution, by definition, is unique. It means the pool of technicians familiar with a specific setup is limited. Training becomes essential, but it also means that getting external help in emergencies can be more complicated.

Potential for Catastrophic Losses in RAS

The delicate balance in RAS means that even minor technical glitches can have outsized consequences:

  • Rapid Escalation: In a controlled environment like RAS, problems can escalate rapidly. A malfunctioning oxygen pump can deprive fish of essential oxygen, while a failing heat exchanger can drastically alter water temperatures. Either scenario can result in a total loss of fish stock within minutes to hours.

  • Monitoring Systems: Given the potential risks, continuous monitoring systems become crucial. These systems must be robust, providing real-time data and immediately alerting technicians to any abnormalities.

  • Backup Systems: Given the high stakes, having backup systems is vital. Whether it's an alternative power source, a secondary oxygenation system, or backup pumps, these redundancies can be the difference between a minor hiccup and a catastrophic loss.

The High-Pressure Environment of RAS Operations

Operating in an RAS environment is akin to walking a tightrope:

  • Constant Observation: A small oversight can result in significant losses, so technicians and operators must be constantly vigilant. Routine checks, even when things seem to be running smoothly, are not just recommended; they're essential.

  • Stress and Decision-Making: The high-pressure environment can be stressful, and decision-making under stress is a well-documented challenge. Ensuring technicians and operators are well-trained and have the tools available becomes crucial.

  • Economic Implications: Beyond the immediate concern of fish welfare, RAS operations have a significant economic dimension. A maintenance lapse or technical glitch doesn't just risk fish health; it can translate to considerable financial losses, underscoring the high stakes of RAS management.

The Challenges of Subcontracting in RAS Environments

Technicians working in RAS farms navigate a complex maze of intricacies daily, ensuring that the delicate balance within these systems remains undisturbed. However, the scenario becomes even more challenging when subcontractors, such as electricians or other maintenance professionals, are brought into the fold. Often not associated full-time with a specific RAS setup, these subcontractors may need more familiarity with that system's unique nuances and customizations.

This unfamiliarity presents a potential minefield, as even minor oversights can lead to significant disruptions. Furthermore, because RAS setups are so specialized, even seasoned professionals from other industries can find themselves on a steep learning curve. The result is a delicate dance where the margin for error is slim, and the stakes are exceptionally high. As such, ensuring adequate training, detailed documentation, and clear communication becomes paramount to prevent costly mistakes and ensure the smooth operation of these intricate systems.

Where fixaible meets RAS

Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) represent the future of fish farming. This method, characterized by its sustainability and efficiency, requires precision and maintenance expertise that traditional aquaculture rarely encounters. Given the intricate technological aspects of RAS, there's minimal room for maintenance oversights.

At the heart of fixaible is a mission to serve as a robust assistant for those navigating technical challenges. fixaible sets itself apart through the:

  • Deep Understanding of Equipment: Every RAS operation presents unique challenges with its customized and standard equipment mix. Fixaible integrates by scrutinizing every equipment documentation, harnessing real-time I/O data, and comprehending complex drawings and schematics. This ensures a complete grasp of each system's specific intricacies.

  • MLPD & AI-Powered Troubleshooting: Rather than just reporting issues, Fixaible actively assists in diagnosing them. Using Machine Learning Parsing of Documents (MLPD) it delves into vast amounts of structured and unstructured data to provide insights. Coupled with Artificial Intelligence, this allows for a rapid pinpointing of problems by considering multiple data sources that were previously inaccessible or overlooked.

  • Technician Collaboration & Rapid Onboarding: fixaible focuses on enhancing the human element within RAS. It ensures that knowledge is not just stored but is readily accessible. This promotes seamless technician collaboration and enables faster integration of new technicians, allowing them to understand the specific RAS system they're dealing with quickly.

Integration of Fixaible

One of the standout features of Fixaible is its effortless integration into the daily routines of technicians. It is more than just another cumbersome software that demands hours of training. Instead, it's designed to be intuitive, easily accessible, and instantly beneficial.

  • User-friendly Chatbot Interface: At the heart of fixaible is its chatbot feature. Instead of navigating through layers of menus and options, technicians can type in or voice out their queries or concerns. The chatbot, powered by advanced MLPD and AI, dives into the vast reservoir of data, from customized documentation to real-time I/O readings, and offers precise solutions or suggestions in real time.

  • Instant Access to Information: Traditional methods often require technicians to sift through manuals and schematics or even resort to trial and error. With fixaible, that information is a mere query away. Whether complex schematics or an understanding of non-standard equipment, fixaible delivers the needed information directly, ensuring technicians can act swiftly and decisively.

  • On-the-Go Solution: The mobile-first design of fixaible ensures that technicians don't need to be tethered to a desk or a specific location. Whether by the tank side, in the control room, or off-site, they have a reliable assistant ready to help. All it requires is a smartphone or tablet.

Fixaible doesn't just sit in the background, waiting to be called upon during crises. It's an active daily partner, streamlining processes, offering insights, and ensuring every day is a step towards perfection.

Hypothetical RAS Failure Scenario and How fixaible can be used:

In a state-of-the-art RAS facility, the dissolved oxygen sensor malfunction went undetected. This glitch led to the system believing there was adequate oxygen in the tanks when, in reality, levels were plummeting. The design, thus, didn't activate backup oxygenation measures. The resulting low-oxygen environment led to a substantial loss of fish stock, resulting in significant financial loss.

How fixaible could have intervened:

  • Deep Equipment Understanding: With its ability to understand customized and standard equipment: drawings, manuals, operating procedures and real-time I/O data, Fixaible could have recognized any discrepancy between expected and actual sensor readings. It could have detected that while the sensor reported sufficient oxygen, other parameters like oxygen dosing during the feeding cycle had not changed, or oxygen values hadn’t experienced any state changes.

  • MLPD & AI-Powered Diagnostics: Leveraging Machine Learning Parsing of Documents (MLPD), fixaible could have cross-referenced the problematic reading against the sensor's documentation, schematics, or even similar incidents documented elsewhere. This process might highlight that the readings were outside expected norms for such conditions, suggesting potential sensor malfunction.

  • Prompt Alerts: fixaible would have promptly alerted the on-duty technicians on detecting a possible issue, providing them with diagnostic information and potential solutions. This proactive approach could have resulted in a quicker response time, preventing the drastic drop in oxygen levels.

  • Knowledge Pooling: Past similar issues would be at the technicians' fingertips. If this wasn't the first instance of such a malfunction or a similar problem was encountered elsewhere and logged, technicians could quickly reference this data to address the issue.

  • Collaborative Problem Solving: In a scenario where multiple technicians or experts must collaborate on an emergent issue, Fixaible could act as a central hub, pooling insights and facilitating rapid decision-making.

Its proactive approach is the critical advantage fixaible offers in this hypothetical scenario. Rather than technicians being reactive – only addressing problems once they manifest catastrophically or are lucky enough to catch them being in the right place at the right time – they are provided with early warnings and rich data-driven insights to tackle potential issues head-on.


RAS is more than just a forward-thinking approach to aquaculture; it's a sustainable approach to efficient farming. However, with its innovative methods comes an intricate web of challenges beyond traditional agriculture's scope. This next-gen farming calls for a blend of cutting-edge technology, specialized training, maintenance, and troubleshooting abilities to unlock its potential.

This is where fixaible steps in, not merely as an innovative tool but as a steadfast ally. With fixaible by your side, regardless of size or intricacy, RAS operations are equipped with unmatched troubleshooting expertise.

Join hands with us as we chart a course toward setting new standards in RAS maintenance. Together, we can push the envelope of what's achievable.

Brad Cortlandt

Founder / CEO - fixaible

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09 sep. 2023
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Nicely articulated!

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