Faced with the need to pump a combination of salt and fresh water to clean, cool and package shellfish, Prins & Dingemanse, a Dutch mussel supplier, turned to ITT. Based in Yerseke, The Netherlands, P&D is the largest mussel provider in that country, bringing to market more than three million pounds of mussels, oysters and other shellfish each year.
The company cultures its mussels and oysters in the Oosterschelde, an almost 100,000-acre tidal wetland that is part of the North Sea. An important fishing ground for mussels, oysters, flatfish and crabs, the Oosterschelde is the largest national park in the Netherlands. Its tides and flora park create water that is rich in nutrients, which give an intense, desirable flavor to the mussels. The bivalve mollusks filter plankton from the water, and as efficient primary consumers in the food chain, the mussels grow relatively quickly and profusely.
Until about eight years ago, P&D’s culturing facility used pumps from a range of suppliers, but reliability and maintenance concerns created constant challenges. The variable production cycles of the pumps, which were dependent on the flow of shellfish from ships to the processing lines, meant there were periods when the pumps sat idle. During those times, the harbor water, which is rich in microscopic marine life, would cause the pumps to foul and require cleaning.
That is when ITT introduced a plan to replace P&D’s existing pumps with all ITT Lowara brand pumps. Their cast-iron duplex impellers and shafts eliminated the problems caused by bronze and stainless steel components in the earlier pumps, making them suitable for the marine conditions. Also, using a single brand of pumps simplified P&D’s supply and maintenance plan. The Lowara pumps were equipped with ITT’s Hydrovar smart pump control technology, an intelligent pump speed control system that adapts to demand.
After the mussels are fished out of the farming beds, they are rinsed carefully for five to 24 hours to remove all sand before packaging. The production process includes separation of the mussels from other items such as crabs, stones and empty shells. That step occurs in large metal containers that sit in flushing platforms where the rinse water is captured and filtered for reuse.
P&D now uses three ITT Vogel brand LS 15 kW pumps, which replaced six existing pumps yet maintain similar performance curves. Once the washing cycle is complete, the mussels are bathed in constantly circulating cold water maintained at 50°F (10°C) to keep them fresh until they are packaged and transferred to refrigerated and frozen storage facilities. P&D uses ITT Vogel brand model LM and Lowara brand model SH pumps in the production lines to keep the mussels cool and properly aerated.