A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

Years ago one of my favourite clients was a Senior Civil Servant named Malcolm. He was a great guy with only one flaw – he’d coming rushing down the corridor to my office and announce that he’d had a “scathingly brilliant idea”. They were never any good. This year one of the boat captains managed to achieve something Malcolm never did. A truly marvelous solution to a problem.

Recently a group of guys I know have been working on a project down in the Harbour. They started late but managed to get it done in time for Lobster Season and yesterday I went down to see the results of all their hard work. It’s brilliant.

Tiger has 4 boats setting and hauling traps. In addition he buys the catch from a couple of other captains. Up until this season they would offload crates onto his scow, then (once sorting was done) the whole thing would be towed over to the wharf and the crates would be lifted up by winch 2 at a time for loading onto the semi-trailer.

This was not only a hassle, but if somebody else was using the winch the truck driver could be waiting for hours just to begin loading. So it wasn’t convenient for anybody.

This year Tiger designed, and had the crew build, a conveyor system. This was no quick and dirty construction. Solid steel is set in concrete and the rollers are so well balanced they’re quiet. They even cut down a few trees and laid them in the water to block off a lot of the rockweed that floats nearby.

The lobsters are sorted and 100 lbs put into each box for shipping. The crates are lowered into the water, tied together with ropes, and then pulled to the bottom of the belt before being lifted onto the rollers.

I suggested to Francis Lee that he have Tiger rotate the crew through the various parts of this process so everybody would have a chance to get a bad back. 🙂 However, I know he’ll figure out a way to improve this step.

Once untied the crates are automatically lifted up to the top where they are stacked onto pallets held by a forklift. The man working on this station can shutoff the conveyor if he has to, however yesterday they were using two forklift trucks so offloading was never interrupted. The process can be used for herring as well and they can reverse it to load bait onto boats.

The crew have been able to load 150 crates an hour – which, for those who are curious, at current prices is over $150,000 worth of lobster. Garret drove his forklift past me and proudly pointed out his load was worth $8,000 as he put it on the truck for delivery to Nova Scotia.

The whole system and build works like a hot damn. Malcolm would approve. 🙂

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