Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
A FISH PROCESSING MACHINE AND A METHOD FOR PROCESSING FISH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/062609
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention provides for a fish processing machine (1) comprising a main conveyer (12) for transporting fish (3) between different fish processing stations (16, 7) of the fish processing machine (1). The main conveyer (12) comprises a plurality of mouth penetrating means (5) for penetrating the mouth (4) of the fish (3) and fixating the position and the state of the mouth (4) in relation to said main conveyer (12). A method for processing fish (3) is also disclosed.

Inventors:
KRISTENSEN, Ivan (Fallevej 48, Viborg, DK-8800, DK)
JØRGENSEN, Daniel Braad (Lyøvej 8, Silkeborg, DK-8600, DK)
Application Number:
DK2014/050344
Publication Date:
May 07, 2015
Filing Date:
October 22, 2014
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KROMA A/S (Rævevej 22, Skive, DK-7800, DK)
International Classes:
A22C25/14
Foreign References:
US5098334A1992-03-24
US2483470A1949-10-04
US2192838A1940-03-05
US4291436A1981-09-29
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENTGRUPPEN A/S (Aaboulevarden 31, 4th floor, Aarhus C, DK-8000, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A fish processing machine (1) comprising a main conveyer (12) for transporting fish (3) between different fish processing stations (16, 17) of said fish processing machine (1), said main conveyer (12) comprising a plurality of mouth penetrating means (5) for penetrating the mouth (4) of said fish (3) and fixating the position and the state of said mouth (4) in relation to said main conveyer (12).

2. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 1, wherein said main conveyer (12) further comprises fixation means (10) for fixating the head of said fish (3) in relation to said mouth penetrating means (5).

3. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said mouth penetrating means (5) are mounted on displaceable slide means (9) comprising means allowing said slide means (9) to be displaced in a direction transverse to a transport direction of said main conveyer (12).

4. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 3, wherein said slide means (9) comprises engagement means (18) for engaging said slide means (9) with displacement means (6), for displacing a slide (19) of said slide means (9) in a direction transverse to the transport direction of said main conveyer (12).

5. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 4, wherein said displacement means (6) are mounted on a stationary part (13) of said fish processing machine (1).

6. A fish processing machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said mouth penetrating means (5) are arrange to extend transversely in relation to the transport direction of said main conveyer (12) to enable that the transported fish (3) are arranged parallel side-by-side with the longitudinal direction of said fish (3) arranged transverse to said transport direction of said main conveyer (12).

7. A fish processing machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said fish processing machine (1) further comprises a first fish processing station (16) and a second fish processing station (17), wherein first fish processing means (20) of said first fish processing station (16) is different from second fish processing means (21) of said second fish processing station (17).

8. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 7, wherein at least one of said first fish processing means (20) and said second fish processing means (21) comprises means for processing said fish (3) through said mouth penetrating means (5).

9. A fish processing machine (1) according to claim 7 or 8, wherein said first fish processing station (16) comprises two or more substantially identical first fish processing means (20) and/or said second fish processing station (17) comprises two or more substantially identical second fish processing means (21).

10. A fish processing machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said fish processing machine (1) comprises means for processing said fish (3) both on a topside (22) and an underside (23) of said main conveyer (12).

11. A fish processing machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein an abdomen cutting device (25) for cutting open the abdomen of said fish (3) is arranged at a topside (22) of said main conveyer (12). 12. A fish processing machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a gutting device (24) for gutting said fish (3) is arranged at an underside (23) of said main conveyer (12).

13. A method for processing fish (3), said method comprising the steps of: • arranging fish (3) on mouth penetrating means (5) connected to a main conveyer (12) of a fish processing machine (1),

• conveying said fish (3) arranged on said mouth penetrating means (5) from a first fish processing station (16) to a second fish processing station (17), and · processing said fish (3) through said mouth penetrating means (5).

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein said fish (3) are processed by two or more substantially identical second fish processing means (21) of said second fish processing station (17) process substantially simultaneously.

15. A method according to claim 13 or 14, wherein said main conveyer (12) is stopped while said fish (3) are processed.

Description:
A FISH PROCESSING MACHINE AND A METHOD FOR PROCESSING FISH Field of the invention

The invention relates to a fish processing machine comprising a main conveyer for transporting fish between different fish processing stations of the fish processing machine and a method for processing fish.

Background of the invention

Automated processing of fish where the fish is processed through the abdomen is well-known in the art. And since particularly the liver and spawn often are valuable commodities it is also known to remove the viscera through the abdomen

substantially without damaging the viscera, so that this may undergo further processing separately. However, when the viscera is removed through the abdomen it is difficult to sever the oesophagus properly without damaging the viscera and a substantial part of the oesophagus therefore remains in the gutted fish. The oesophagus is not pleasant to eat and it is therefore not desirable to leave parts of it in the processed fish.

From US 5,098,334 it is therefore known to place a rod in the mouth of the fish through which an oesophagus cutting tool can be inserted and cut the oesophagus where it is attached in the throat of the fish. However, no two fish are identical and it is therefore difficult and time consuming to ensure that the rod is placed securely in the mouth of the fish every time a new fish processing process has to take place. An object of the invention is therefore to provide for an advantageous technique for processing fish.

The invention

The invention provides for a fish processing machine comprising a main conveyer for transporting fish between different fish processing stations of the fish processing machine. The main conveyer comprises a plurality of mouth penetrating means for penetrating the mouth of the fish and fixating the position and the state of the mouth in relation to said main conveyer. Penetrating and fixating the state and position of the mouth of the fish to be processed, is advantageous in that the fish hereby can be processed through the mouth which enables better and cleaner disengagement of the viscera and it enables that the fish may be gutted without opening the abdomen of the fish. However, in practice no two fish are completely alike and it is therefore difficult to automat fish processing through the mouth of the fish since it is difficult to access the mouth of different fish with great certainty. By providing the main conveyer with a plurality of mouth penetrating means and the process of mounting the fish on these mouth penetrating means can take place at a single location - as opposed to at every fish processing stations - hereby making it cost-effective to design a single station with the main purpose of penetrating and fixating the mouth of the fish in that once this is done the mouth penetrating means are moved along with the fish through the different fish processing stations of the fish processing machine, so that the exact position and state is always fixed at every fish process station substantially no matter how different the fish are - i.e. even through the position of the fish mouth varies. Thus, the mouth of the fish can be accessed precisely and thereby fast at every station and the capacity of the fish processing machine can be increased.

It should be noted that the term "state" in this context should be understood as the state the mouth is maintained in i.e. open, closed, half open etc.

The term "mouth penetrating means" is in this context to be understood as any kind of rod, cone, tube, pipe, stick, guide or similar mouth penetrating device suitable for automated penetration of the mouth of fish. In an aspect of the invention said main conveyer further comprises fixation means for fixating the head of said fish in relation to said mouth penetrating means.

Providing the main conveyer with fixation means capable of fixating the head of the fish is advantageous is that the size of the head of virtually all fish is - relative to the total size of the fish - of a size which enables a solid and firm grip on the fish. Furthermore, when fixating the fish at the head it is easier to ensure that the fixation device is not in the way when the fish is processed; particularly when the fish abdomen is cut open and gutted, and it is ensured that the fixation device does not squeeze on the entrails or affect their position, hereby making it easier to cut and gut the fish.

The term "fixation means" should in this context be understood as any kind of hook, clamp, cart or similar fixation device suitable for fixating the head of a fish.

In an aspect of the invention said mouth penetrating means are mounted on displaceable slide means comprising means allowing said slide means to be displaced in a direction transverse to a transport direction of said main conveyer. By mounting the mouth penetrating means on displaceable slide means it is possible to displace the mouth penetrating means and thereby the fish perpendicularly to the direction of travel of the main conveyer. This is advantageous in that it provided more flexibility regarding how the fish enters and exits the machine and how the different fish processing stations operate.

The term "slide means" should in this context be understood as any kind of carriage, guide, cart or similar slide suitable for guiding mouth penetrating means towards and into the mouth of fish. In an aspect of the invention said slide means comprises engagement means for engaging said slide means with displacement means, for displacing said slide in a direction transverse to the transport direction of said main conveyer.

Providing the slide means with engagement means enabling that the slide means can be connected to displacement means is advantageous in that the mouth penetrating means can be actively moved. And moving the mouth penetrating means actively is advantageous in that the mouth penetrating means hereby can be moved towards the fish (and not opposite) when placing the mouth penetrating means in the mouth of the fish. And this is advantageous in that it is simpler and more predictable to move the mouth penetrating means with great precision at least compared to attempting the move the fish with the same precision.

It should also be noted that in this context the term "displacement means" should be understood as any kind of actuator, motor, solenoid or similar displacement device suitable for displacing mouth penetrating means in a fish processing machine.

In an aspect of the invention said displacement means are mounted on a stationary part of said fish processing machine.

The displacement means are only used when the mouth penetrating means have to be placed in the mouth of the fish and since this only happens at a fixed location it is advantageous that the displacement means are mounted on a stationary part of said fish processing machine. Furthermore, mounting the displacement means to be stationary is advantageous in that it ensures simpler assembly and operation of the displacement means.

In an aspect of the invention said mouth penetrating means are arrange to extend transversely in relation to the transport direction of said main conveyer to enable that the transported fish are arranged parallel side-by-side with the longitudinal direction of said fish arranged transverse to said transport direction of said main conveyer.

Arranging the transported fish parallel side by side is advantageous in that the total length of the processing machine can be reduced and in that the capacity can be increased. Furthermore, by arranging the fish substantially perpendicular to the direction of travel of the main conveyer is advantageous in that it enables that the fish processing equipment can be arranged alongside the main conveyer hereby enabling a simpler and more convenient machine layout.

By the term "longitudinal direction" is to be understood the direction defined by the length of the fish i.e. the length measured from head of the fish to the tail fin of the fish. In an aspect of the invention said fish processing machine further comprises a first fish processing station and a second fish processing station, wherein first fish processing means of said first fish processing station is different from second fish processing means of said second fish processing station. Providing the fish processing machine with different fish processing means is advantageous in that several fish processing processes hereby can be performed simultaneously hereby reducing the lead time and increasing the machines capacity.

In an aspect of the invention at least one of said first fish processing means and said second fish processing means comprises means for processing said fish through said mouth penetrating means.

E.g. cutting the oesophagus through the mouth of the fish is advantageous in that it ensures that the oesophagus can be cut substantially at the root (in the throat of the fish) without risking damage to the viscera of the fish. And since to location of the mouth penetrating means is fixed and well-defined it is advantageous to enter the fish through the mouth penetrating means.

In an aspect of the invention said first fish processing station comprises two or more substantially identical first fish processing means and/or said second fish processing station comprises two or more substantially identical second fish processing means.

Processing the fish by means of two or more substantially identical fish processing means at the fish processing stations is advantageous in that it hereby is possible to increase the capacity of the fish processing machine without increasing the speed of the individual processes.

In an aspect of the invention said fish processing machine comprises means for processing said fish both on a topside and an underside of said main conveyer.

It is advantageous to provide fish processing means on both the topside and the underside of the main conveyer in that it enables a more compact fish processing machine design. Theoretically the area covered by the fish processing machine can be substantially halved if half the fish processing means are arranged at the underside of the conveyer - compared to a fish processing machine where all the fish processing means are arranged at the top side of the conveyer.

In an aspect of the invention an abdomen cutting device for cutting open the abdomen of said fish is arranged at a topside of said main conveyer.

When the abdomen of the fish is cut open it is advantageous that the fish is orientated with its abdomen upwards so that gravity will keep the viscera down and away from the abdomen cutting device during the cutting process and thereby reduce the risk of the viscera being damaged. It is therefore advantageous to arrange the abdomen cutting device at the topside of the main conveyer in that free space is hereby provided above to fish for the abdomen cutting device.

In an aspect of the invention a gutting device for gutting said fish is arranged at an underside of said main conveyer.

Arranging the gutting device at the underside of the main conveyer is advantageous in that gravity pull in the viscera hereby can help pulling the viscera out of the fish. The invention also provides for a method for processing fish. The method comprises the steps of:

• arranging fish on mouth penetrating means connected to a main conveyer of a fish processing machine,

· conveying the fish arranged on the mouth penetrating means from a first fish processing station to a second fish processing station, and

• processing the fish through the mouth penetrating means.

Once the fish is mounted on the mouth penetrating means the position of the mouth of the fish is very well-defined and it is therefore relatively easy to ensure that further fish processing can take place through the mouth penetrating means even when the fish is processed at different locations at different fish processing stations throughout the fish processing machine. In an aspect of the invention said fish are processed by two or more substantially identical second fish processing means of said second fish processing station process substantially simultaneously.

Processing two fish at the same time by means of two substantially identical fish processing means substantially takes the same time as processing one fish with one fish processing means and it is therefore advantageous to enable that two or more substantially identical fish processing means can process two or more fish simultaneously. In an aspect of the invention said main conveyer is stopped while said fish are processed.

If the movement of the main conveyer is arrested while the fish are processed the fish processing means can be formed stationary which is advantageous in that it entails a much simpler fish processing machine design.

In an aspect of the invention said slide means comprises are provided with means for adjusting the vertical position of said mouth penetrating means. Adjusting the vertical position of the mouth penetrating means is advantageous in that it hereby is possible to place the mouth penetrating means is correct vertical position before or while the mouth penetrating means are slid into the mouth of the fish. In an aspect of the invention said mouth penetrating means are arrange on carriages arranged to travel around a stationary part of a main conveyer.

Arranging the mouth penetrating means on carriages is advantageous in that it hereby is possible to simplify manufacturing and assembly.

Figures

The invention will be described in the following with reference to the figures in which illustrates a fish processing machine, as seen from the front, fig. 2 illustrates the fish processing machine shown in fig. 1, as seen in perspective, fig. 3 illustrates mouth access providing means and supply conveyer of a fish processing machine, as seen in perspective, fig. 4 illustrates mouth access providing means engaging a fish, as seen from the side, fig. 5 illustrates a cross section through mouth access providing means, as seen from the top, fig. 6 illustrates oesophagus severing means, as seen from the side, and fig. 7 illustrates a main conveyer comprising a plurality of mouth penetrating means, as seen in perspective.

Detailed description

Fig. 1 illustrates a fish processing machine 1, as seen from the front and fig. 2 shows the fish processing machine 1 shown in fig. 1, as seen in perspective.

In this embodiment the fish processing machine 1 comprises six fish processing stations 16, 17, each comprising two identical fish processing means 20, 21.

However, in another embodiment the fish processing machine 1 could comprise another number of fish processing stations 16, 17 such as only one, two, three, four, five, eight or more and each of those fish processing stations 16, 17 could comprise another number of identical fish processing means 20, 21 such as three, four, five or more or each fish processing station 16, 17 could comprise only a single fish processing means 20, 21.

In this embodiment three of the fish processing stations 16, 17 are arranged at the topside 22 of the main conveyer 12 and the remaining three fish processing stations 16, 17 are arranged at the underside 23 of the main conveyer 12. However, in another embodiment the fish processing stations 16, 17 could be distributed differently on the main conveyer 12 i.e. in another embodiment all the fish processing stations 16, 17 could be arranged along the topside 22 of the main conveyer 12.

In this embodiment, all the fish processing means 20, 21 of all the fish processing stations 16, 17 are lined up so that the longitudinal direction of the fish 3 are arranged substantially perpendicular to the transport direction. In principle the fish 3 could also be arranged head to tail in an embodiment but if the fish 3 was so arranged through the fish processing machine 1, the capacity of the machine 1 would not be significantly increased if several substantially identical fish processing means 20, 21 were installed in that they would also have to be arranged in succession of each other.

However, in another embodiment the fish processing means 20, 21 of the fish processing stations 16, 17 could also be arranged parallel side by side at the main conveyer 12 so that the longitudinal direction of fish 3 was arranged substantially parallel with the transport direction of the main conveyer 12 i.e. if the mouth penetrating means 5 was arranged in parallel with the transport direction or arranged in continuous sets of e.g. two, three, four, five or more neighbouring mouth penetrating means 5 wherein the sets are arranged end to end. In such a configuration the identical fish processing means 20, 21 of a fish processing station 16, 17 would also be arranged side by side substantially perpendicular to the transport direction of the main conveyer 12 in a number corresponding to the number of mouth penetrating means 5 across the width of the conveyer 12.

By the term "longitudinal direction" is to be understood the direction defined by the length of the fish 3 i.e. the length measured from head of the fish 3 to the tail fin of the fish 3.

In this embodiment the first fish processing station 16 comprises mouth access providing means 2 i.e. means for placing mouth penetrating means 5 in the mouth 4 of the fish 3 and moving the fish 2 onto the main conveyer 12. The second fish processing station 17 comprises oesophagus severing means 15 for cutting the oesophagus free of the fish throat and the last fish processing station on the topside 22 of the main conveyer 12 comprises an abdomen cutting device 25 for cutting open the abdomen of the fish 3. The main conveyer 12 is in this embodiment provided with guide means 26 to help fixating the fish 3 through the bend between the topside 22 and the underside 23 of the main conveyer 12. The first fish processing station on the underside of the main conveyer 12 comprises a gutting device 24 for removing the entrails of the fish 3 and cutting and removing the blood vein by means of brushes, suction, scraping, cutting or any combination thereof. The second fish processing station on the underside of the main conveyer 12 is in this embodiment substantially identical with the first fish processing station on the underside and the last fish processing station on the underside of the main conveyer 12 (i.e. the station under the first fish processing station 16 on the topside 22) is where the fish 3 is removed from the fish processing machine 1.

However, in another embodiment the fish processing stations 16, 17 could be arranged in a different order, one or more of the fish processing stations 16, 17 could be omitted or replaced by other types of fish processing stations 16, 17 or further fish processing stations 16, 17 could be added. In a fish processing machine 1 according to the present invention several different fish processing stations 16, 17 each comprising several identical fish processing means 20, 21 can process different fish 3 simultaneously, which increases the capacity of the machine 1 substantially without increasing the width of the machine 1. In comparison, if the fish 3 were arranged head to tail in a single row through the fish processing machine 1 and several substantially identical fish processing means 20, 21 were installed in succession of each other, the machine 1 would be so long that it would be practically impossible to install anywhere. In this embodiment the main conveyer 12 comprises an equal number of displaceable carriages 29 comprising at least the mouth penetrating means 5 of the mouth access providing means 2. Each carriage 29 further comprises wheels engaging a conveyer guide 28 forming part of a stationary part 13 of the fish processing machine 1. In this embodiment the carriages 29 are linked so that if one carriage 29 is displaced all the carriages 29 will move. In this embodiment carriages 29 are not disclosed at the ends of the main conveyer 12 but in a real functioning embodiment further carriages 29 could be provided at these locations.

In another embodiment the mouth access providing means 2 could be connected directed directly to a conveyer belt, the carriages 29 could be formed differently or connected differently, the carriages 29 could merely push each other or the main conveyer 12 could be formed in numerous other ways.

In this embodiment the drive means 27 of the main conveyer 12 is a pair of pneumatic linear actuators operating in parallel and having the a stroke

corresponding to twice the distance between each carriage 29. At the end of the piston rods, the pneumatic linear actuators comprises means for engaging a carriage 29 from the bottom where after the pneumatic linear actuators will pull the carriage 29 - and thereby all the carriages 29 - forward so that all carriages 29 are moved two places forward i.e. since each fish processing station 16, 17 in this embodiment comprises two identical fish processing means 20, 21 each carriages 29 will be moved forward to a new fish processing station 16, 17.

However, in another embodiment the drive means 27 of the main conveyer 12 could be formed as a servomotor e.g. pulling a timing belt or the drive means 27 could be formed in a multitude of other way such as displacing mechanisms comprising chains, rack and gears, spindle drives, other types of electrical motors or motors having other power sources, other linear actuators such as electrical linear actuators or hydraulic cylinders or any combination hereof.

In this embodiment all the fish processing means 5 are positioned in an initial position 6 in which they await the first fish 3 to enter the machine 1, when the machine 1 is initially started up. At the first fish processing stations 16 the mouth access providing means 2 will be moved over to a supply conveyer 30 where the mouth penetrating means 5 will substantially simultaneously be placed in the mouth of two fish 3, the fish 3 head will be fixated by means of fixation means 10 and the fish 3 will be pushed and pulled onto the main conveyer 12 (this step will be explained in more details in relation with figs. 3-5). Once the fish 3 are in place on the main conveyer 12 inside the fish processing machine 1 the drive means 27 will move all the carriages 29 forward two places so that two new fish 3 can be placed in the two empty carriages 29 at the first fish processing stations 16. The first two fish 3 is then moved to the second fish processing stations 17 where - in this case - the oesophagus of the two fish 3 is severed simultaneously and simultaneously with the operation of the other fish processing stations. In this way the fish 3 travels through the fish processing machine 1 in steps so that every time the fish 3 moves forward it is moved into a new fish processing station 16, 17 where a new fish processing step can take place or be repeated.

In the embodiments disclosed in fig. 1 and 2 only the essential parts of the fish processing machine 1 is shown. A functioning embodiment the fish processing machine 1 would typically further comprise some sort of main frame - to which some or all the fish processing means 20, 21 was connected -, enclosure, further guides, exit conveyer etc. It should be noted that on all illustrations the fish 3 is shown without a tail fin but in an embodiment of the invention the fish would comprise its tail all the way through the fish processing machine 1 or the tail could be removed in the fish processing machine 1. Fig. 3 illustrates mouth access providing means 2 and supply conveyer 30 of a fish processing machine 1, as seen in perspective.

In this embodiment the mouth access providing means 2 comprises mouth penetrating means 5 in the form of a conical beak-like arrangement. The mouth penetrating means 5 are mounted on displaceable slide means 9 enabling that the mouth penetrating means 5 can be moved over to the supply conveyer 30 where it penetrates the mouth 4 of the fish 3 while being maintained in a closed state. Once the beak-like mouth penetrating means 5 have entered the mouth 4 of the fish 3 the mouth penetrating means 5 is opened to substantially form a cylinder extending into the mouth 4 of the fish 3. Making the mouth penetrating means 5 hollow is advantageous in that it enables that further fish processing can take place through the hollow mouth penetrating means 5 which in turn is advantageous in that the exact location of the mouth penetrating means 5 is always the same whereas all fish 3 are different in shape and size and it can therefore be difficult to detect a specific part of any given fish 3.

In another embodiment of the invention the mouth penetrating means 5 could be formed differently e.g. to better suit the shape of the mouth 4 of the fish 3, to better suit fish processing means 20, 21 having to operate through the mouth penetrating means 5, to ensure better fixation of the fish 3, to ensure easier penetration of the fish's mouth 4 or other or any combination thereof. I.e. the mouth penetrating means 5 could be formed as a cylinder without the expanding part, the expanding part could be formed by further moving parts and other. In this embodiment fixation means 10 will also engage the head of the fish 3 to ensure that the fish 3 is securely fixed to the mouth penetrating means 5 and that the mouth penetrating means 5 stays inside the mouth of the fish 3. While the supply conveyer 30 moves the fish 3 forward the displacement means 6 pulls the slide means 9 and thereby the fish 3 into the fish processing machine 1.

However, in another embodiment the mouth penetrating means 5 could be stationary (regarding transverse motion) and the fish 3 could be displaced onto the mouth penetrating means 5. In this embodiment the displacement means 6 are formed as a pneumatic cylinder mounted on the supply conveyer 30 i.e. on a stationary part of the fish processing machine 1. In another embodiment the displacement means 6 could be another type of linear actuator, it could comprise rack and pinion, motors, timing belts or other or any combination thereof.

In this embodiment the slide means 9 of the mouth access providing means 2 also comprises engagement means 18 for connecting the slide means 9 to the displacement means 6 when the specific carriages 29 are in place in front of the supply conveyer 30. I.e. in this embodiment the slide means 9 of the mouth access providing means 2 are locked towards transverse motion when it is not engaged by the displacement means 6.

Fig. 4 illustrates mouth access providing means 2 engaging a fish 3, as seen from the side. As previously explained all fish 3 are different in shape and size and it can therefore be difficult to ensure that the mouth penetrating means 5 always hits the mouth 4 of the fish 3. Thus, in this embodiment the supply conveyer 30 is provided with sensor means 7 for detecting the exact location of the mouth 4 of the specific fish 3 lined up in the supply conveyer 30. In this embodiment the sensor means 7 is a camera.

In this embodiment the mouth access providing means 2 is also provided with adjustment means 8 comprising a slide guide 31 arranged on the supply conveyer 30. This slide guide's 31 vertical position is adjusted in relation to the detections of the sensor means 7 so that when the slide means 9 is moved towards the fish 3, the wedge means 32 of the slide means 9 will engage the slide guide 31 and thereby adjust the vertical position of the mouth penetrating means 5 accordingly to fit substantially the exact height of the mouth 4 of the fish 3. However, in another embodiment the adjustment means 8 could comprise means for directly adjusting the position of the mouth of the fish 3 in relation to the mouth penetrating means 5 or vice versa e.g. by means of a motor, a linear actuator or similar changing the vertical position of the mouth penetrating means 5 directly on the slide means 9 (which could require such means mounted on every carriage 29) or directly changing the vertical position of the fish 3 in relation to output from the sensor means 7.

Since most fish 3 are symmetrical (around a vertical centre plane of a normally orientated fish 3) only the vertical position of the mouth penetrating means 5 is adjusted in this embodiment but in another embodiment the adjustment means 8 could also comprise means for adjusting the horizontal position of the mouth penetrating means 5 and/or the fish 3 before the mouth penetrating means 5 engages the fish 3. In this embodiment the slide guide 31 is formed as a V and the corresponding wedge means 32 is also substantially V shaped but in another embodiment the slide guide 31 and the wedge means 32 could be shaped as corresponding wedges, circle segments or in another way allowing the position of one of them to be adjusted to the position of the other.

In this embodiment the vertical position of the slide guide 31 is adjusted by means of linear cylinders capable of correcting the vertical position of the slide guide 31 in response to an output from the sensor means 7 (e.g. through further signal processing in a PLC, a PC or other signal processing equipment) but in another embodiment the vertical position could be adjusted by means of a rack and pinion arrangement, inflatable bellows or balloon arrangements, an electrical motor or a similar system.

Fig. 5 illustrates a cross section through mouth access providing means 2, as seen from the top.

To aid in the process of placing the mouth penetrating means 5 in the mouth 4 of the fish 3 the supply conveyer 30 is in this embodiment provided with push means 14 arranged to press on the sides of the fish 3 at the fish's head during the penetration process. Applying pressure to the sides of the fish's head will make the fish's mouth 4 open at least a bit hereby increasing the chance of the mouth penetrating means 5 hitting and sliding into the mouth 4 of the fish 3.

Fig. 6 illustrates oesophagus severing means 15, as seen from the side.

In this embodiment one of the fish processing stations 16, 17 comprises oesophagus severing means 15. In this embodiment of the invention the oesophagus severing means 15 are formed as a rotating cylinder having a sharp edge 33 at the front end forming a cylindrical knife. Thus when the rotating oesophagus severing means 15 are entered into the fish 3 through the mouth penetrating means 5 the oesophagus severing means 15 will cut the oesophagus free of the fish's throat substantially without leaving any part of the oesophagus remaining attached to the fish 3. In this embodiment the cylinder is hollow so that vacuum can be established inside the cylinder to pull the throat end of the oesophagus towards the sharp edge 33. To prevent that the oesophagus (or other objects) is sucked into the cylinder the cylinder could be provided with a grate, lattice or similar at the front end.

In this embodiment only the oesophagus severing process is performed through the hollow mouth penetrating means 5 but in another embodiment further processing could take place through the mouth penetrating means 5. I.e. in an embodiment substantially all fish processing could take place through the mouth penetrating means 5 so that the abdomen of the fish 3 would not have to be cut open.

Fig. 7 illustrates a main conveyer 12 comprising a plurality of mouth penetrating means 5, as seen in perspective.

The invention has been exemplified above with reference to specific examples of mouth access providing means 2, fish processing means 20, 21, main conveyers 12 and other. However, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the particular examples described above but may be designed and altered in a multitude of varieties within the scope of the invention as specified in the claims.

List

1. Fish processing machine

2. Mouth access providing means

3. Fish

4. Mouth of fish

5. Mouth penetrating means

6. Displacement means

7. Sensor means

8. Adjustment means

9. Displaceable slide means

10. Fixation means

11. Moving part of main conveyer

12. Main conveyer

13. Stationary part of fish processing machine

14. Push means

15. Oesophagus severing means

16. First fish processing station

17. Second fish processing station

18. Engagement means

19.

20. First fish processing means

21. Second fish processing means

22. Topside of main conveyer

23. Underside of main conveyer

24. Gutting device

25. Abdomen cutting device

26. Guide means

27. Drive means

28. Conveyer guide

29. Carriage Supply conveyer Slide guide Wedge means Sharp edge