History of Company
Lawrence Mariculture Consulting, Inc. (LMCI) was founded in 1982 as the result of a growing need in the shrimp mariculture industry for technical assistance in the development of integrated shrimp farming operations. Often the idea and enthusiasm were apparent, but the real expertise for following through on project development was not available. It was becoming rather frustrating seeing multi-million dollar projects being built at full-scale in suboptimal locations with little concern given to marketing, appropriate technology, species requirements or economy of scale.
In the past 12 years LMCI has been involved in the successful development of over 50 shrimp mariculture projects, many of which continue to turn to us for technical assistance. This dedication to success has taken LMCI to some 45 countries around the world for projects of both a private and public sector nature. Some of our more notable clients have included Charoen Pokphand, Ralston Purina, Cargill, Exxon, General Mills, Seaboard Marine, etc. For these groups, we have been involved in everything from site evaluations, hatchery construction, pond construction, farm integration, management, feed mill design and operation, feeds formulation, processing plant design and operation, and development of HACCP-based quality control programs.
Although we have a very comprehensive familiarity with the industry, our approach is very simple -- we provide our clients with the most appropriate technology to suite their specific needs. By working with LMCI you have the benefit of over 80 years' experience in the shrimp industry. Our staff is small. We, as well as our clients, don't have any interest in high overhead costs. Our key personnel have and take a personal hand in all client deliverables. At the same time, though, we are one of the most accessible technical assistance groups available. You can reach us any time night or day, seven days a week. We are dedicated to our profession.
The following services are options that might be selected according to the objectives of our clientele. Costs will vary according to the details of the work statement for each service, the number of services required, and the nature of the service rendered. These costs are all outlined well in advance as formal proposals to our clientele.
TASK 1: SITE SELECTION
The term site selection refers to the evaluation of various areas of land in terms of their suitability to achieve profitable culture or processing of shrimp or for establishment of a feed production facility. Obviously, one set of criteria would not be adequate for evaluation of the tremendous variety of endeavors constituting an aquaculture venture. Site selection almost always requires travel to prospective sites for completion of detailed surveys. These surveys consist of a series of questions regarding the nature of the site (e.g., accessibility, topography, bathymetry, soil quality, water quality, availability of production inputs, existing infrastructure, availability of utilities, building materials, skilled labor, proximity to market, etc.) and are typically expedited by any local data. In some cases, where clients are also entering into a new area, the site selection process is extended due to increased mobilization efforts. Finally, hatchery site selection is governed by criteria somewhat different from that of pond site selection. Pond site selection criteria for one species of shrimp might not be similar for a different species. Location of feed mills and processing plants are often compromised by source of raw materials.
Our eighty years' experience in the shrimp industry has shown us that site selection is the most important aspect of developing a profitable aquaculture venture. It has also shown us that almost any site can be developed, the question is at what cost. Site selection, therefore, must be evaluated from a very objective perspective. For site selection, we require that the following series of events take place: 1) LMCI is provided with as much locally-available information regarding possible sites prior to departure; 2) agreement is made with the client to travel to only a small number of designated sites; 3) each site requires at least one day's evaluation, 4) a preliminary discussion of site detriments and benefits take place prior to departure, and 5) a written report and/or evaluation of each site be provided to the client. For example, evaluation of one site for a hatchery location would entail travel from LMCI to the site, one day of evaluation onsite, return to LMCI and about two days' of report write-up.
TASK 2: FACILITY EVALUATION
This task is very similar in scope to that of site selection, the only difference being that some infrastructure for the facility already exists. Typically, this task involves travel to the facility, detailed inspection relevant to intended use, preparation of recommendations relevant to its modification, possible changes in methodologies, and subsequent submission of a detailed report regarding the evaluation. To reduce costs and time required for the evaluation, LMCI suggests that clients provide as much information regarding the facility in advance of travel (e.g., blueprints, methodologies, operations manuals, analytical reports, etc.). Should a complete set of information be made in advance to LMCI, actual time spent on-site could be limited to one or two days per facility plus travel time. However, complexity of the site (e.g., a small hatchery versus a giant feed mill) often extends evaluation time. It is also useful for clients to have a very good idea of what they intend to use the site for prior to contracting LMCI.
TASK 3: CONCEPTUAL DESIGNS
Conceptual designs are designs generated by LMCI key personnel relative to a particular shrimp operation (e.g., hatchery, pond layout, gates, processing plant, feed mill). These types of drawings are usually categorized as flow charts, schematic diagrams, and plans of a conceptual nature. Often they are of sufficient detail to allow for use by a competent construction contractor with prior aquaculture facility experience. They are often drawn to scale and reflect types of building materials to be used. They are not construction-ready or blueprint type drawings generated by a certified engineer. Our experience is that the majority of our clients prefer to receive conceptual designs generated by LMCI and LMCI subsequently interacts with client engineers to arrive at construction-ready blueprints. The reason being is that an engineer in almost any other country than the U.S. costs less. To give you an example of what LMCI would provide in terms of conceptual design for a hatchery, you would receive the following:
1) seawater intake, plan view;
2) seawater intake, side view;
3) overall site layout (intake, hatchery, maturation,
ancillary facilities, roads, etc.);
4) seawater processing/filtration facility;
5) conceptual schematic of seawater treatment;
6) seawater distribution system;
7) aeration distribution system;
8) electrical distribution system;
9) hatchery building with tank/drainage layout;
10) maturation facility with tank/drainage layout;
11) spawning room with tank/drainage layout;
12) algae production facility w/lab and tank details;
13) conceptual drawings of all rooms and ancillary facilities; and
14) all tank designs and dimensions.
The typical time required to generate such drawings is about 30 days, but could vary dependent upon variation from a typical scenario.
TASK 4: DETAILED ENGINEERING DRAWINGS
As mentioned in the previous task, some clients would like LMCI to generate detailed construction-ready blueprints for their facilities. We can offer this service, but we often prefer not to due to cost to the client and potential for misinterpretation of details (i.e., If we prepare drawings in English and they are given to a contractor who only speaks and reads Chinese characters). What we would prefer to do in this case would be to review blueprints to ensure that they accurately represent what LMCI was trying to convey in conceptual form. Of course, if LMCI approves a blueprint, LMCI could be interpreted as assuming responsibility for the client's engineer.
Under normal conditions, if LMCI were only responsible for review of blueprints, it would require about one week of consulting. Our experience has shown us that, for example, detailed construction-ready blueprints for hatchery construction includes about 40 - 60 drawings. Under normal conditions, preparation of detailed engineering drawings would require LMCI's subcontracting of an U.S.-based engineer or engineering firm. This person would require roughly 30-45 days to prepare these drawings. The client would be charged for LMCI's interaction with the engineer, who would have no prior knowledge of the project. The costs would start to add up, especially with courier mailing, translations, etc.
TASK 5: CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISION
Construction supervision is often required to insure that contractors take full consideration in achieving- biological and/or sanitation criteria required of aquaculture facilities by the people who eventually must turn a profit with it. Oftentimes, contractors tend to take short cuts or use creative engineering methodology to reduce their costs, increase their profit margin, all at the expense of the investor. It is advisable that an arbitrary inspector be contracted to ensure that production potential is by no means compromised during the construction process. This person would also have the responsibility of representing the investor in terms of adherence to design acceptable variance from design, efficient use of materials, proper use of materials, etc.
It is envisioned that this service would require one site visit per month for newly constructed facilities. The visit, itself, would only require one or two working- days to complete. Also, short-term communication between LMCI and the client via fax or telephone would be possible on an hourly-charge basis.
TASK 6: PROJECT COMMISSIONING
Project commissioning involves on-site evaluation of a newly constructed facility to ensure that all internal systems are functioning. A good example of this service would be start-up of the seawater treatment and distribution system for a new hatchery. The duration of this task would vary with the complexity of the operation concerned (e.g., commissioning of a non labor-intensive operation such as a semi-intensive pond facility would require less commissioning time than that of a highly labor-intensive operation such as a feed mill). Our experience has shown us that appropriate commissioning periods approximate the following: hatchery- 14 man-days; ponds- 21 man-days; feed mill- 28 man-days; processing plant- 28 man-days.
TASK 7: ON-SITE TRAINING/SUPERVISION
Often, on-site training and supervision is misconstrued as commissioning. Commissioning is assurance that the facility functions. On-site training and supervision is assurance that the work force knows what they are doing. The goal of this task is to move the production/processing facility into a profitable mode as rapidly as possible. It involves personal training of key and mid-management personnel to work as functional teams with a common mission. Only proven methodologies and techniques would be provided to personnel. In addition, personnel would be tested as to their aptitude for performing specific tasks. This could even involve reorganization of pre-existing personnel structures to more efficiently achieve the task at hand.
Under normal conditions, on-site training and supervision would require one month of technical assistance for each production unit (hatchery, feedmill, processing facility). The only exception would be on-site training/supervision for pond operations. In this case, it is more advantageous for LMCI personnel to spend one entire production cycle at the farm. This would enable client personnel to receive training in terms of pond stocking, nursery pond management, fry evaluation, feed management, water quality management, cost economizing, pond harvesting, post-harvest handling, pond preparation, aeration management, etc.
TASK 8: OPERATIONS MANUALS
Most factories function within a very narrow framework of guidelines that are the culmination of practical experience at that particular site. What often works at one production facility is impractical or irrelevant to another. This is the objective of an operations manual. This document, which is often rather bulky, contains all the procedures and methodologies accepted as policy by upper management for operation of the facility. Any variation from this set of accepted guidelines, forms and procedures normally constitutes a breach in production etiquette.
TASK 9: FEEDS DEVELOPMENT
This service would consist of a survey of locally available ingredients and their suitability for use in preparation of feed formulae for the production of shrimp. This survey would require characterization of locally available ingredients in terms of 1) nutrient levels, 2) cost, 3) quality (e.g., total volatile nitrogen in available fishmeal), and 4) extent of availability of ingredients. Because all feed ingredients may not be available (especially certain vitamins, minerals, binders, etc.), some ingredients could require importation. This service would also include a least-cost survey of imported ingredients (i.e., their source, method of importation, etc.). Every attempt would be made to minimize imported ingredients in order to minimize ingredient cost of the formulae. In order to establish a basic set of feed formulae, a review of feed performance requirements and quality criteria with the client would be necessary. This would be critical in order to custom design an appropriate set of feed formulae for farm conditions in the country in question. This work could be done in Texas by LMCI and would require three to six working days, if the above information were to be provided. This would probably be the most economical way to proceed.
NOTE: Basic feed formulae would not contain vitamin or mineral premix (es) nor would they contain maximum or minimum formulae limits. They would not be included in the basic fee due to extent of work required to prepare them and proprietary nature of the information. Should this service be acquired, it would include printed information concerning feed quality versus pond management strategy, nutrient requirements for minerals, vitamins, protein, energy, crude fat, crude fiber, carotenoids, etc. Further, a detailed description of feed sizes versus shrimp size and data sheets would be provided. Clients would also have the option of ordering commercially available vitamin and mineral premixes. This could be more cost effective, depending upon quality of vitamins and minerals in the client country.
Subsequent to development of initial feed formulae, it could be possible that they would require re-evaluation and re-formulation every one to six months. This would depend upon change in ingredient profile, nutrient values of ingredients, change in ingredient price (remember, this is least-cost formulation), change in pond management strategy (e.g., fewer feedings, increased stocking density, etc.).
TASK 10: DEVELOPMENT OF FEED PRODUCTTON FACILITIES
The scope of consulting would depend upon the degree of assistance required, whether it be design advice, operational advice, machine selection, general layout concept, detailed drawings, plant specifications, commissioning, operator training, etc. If capable and experienced staff are available, then the assistance could be limited to general layout sketches and specifications, but if not, then much more details would be required.
It should be noted that although conventional feed milling equipment could be used in shrimp feed manufacture, it must be specially selected and/or considerably modified, and experience in feed milling engineering and operation, though advantageous, is not wholly applicable to shrimp feed manufacture.
Normally the scope of work LMCI provides to clients would be the following:
1) assessment of client's requirements for plant;
2) familiarization with existing plant and operations;
3) evaluation of machinery and services required and available;
4) preparation of machinery layout concept, layout plan;
5) preparation of proposed equipment list and specifications;
6) examination of second-hand or used equipment (if necessary);
7) recommendation and details of equipment modifications;
8) recommendation of pellet die and grinder screen/hammer specifications;
9) preparation of steam line details;
10)liaison with machinery suppliers, engineering and electrical contractors (if required);
11)liaison with formulation consultant;
12)recommendation of operating procedure and techniques;
13)commissioning (start-up), if required; and
14)operator training (if required).
Determination of client requirements and plant layout would be best made during and after a site visit. The length of the visit would depend on the information available and the scope of work required. For example, if no existing layout drawings are available, it would be necessary to measure the existing plant. The minimum site visit would probably be one week. After this, an additional 5 - 8 days could be required to complete a report, prepare specifications and generate one or more layout drawings.
It would be advantageous and save time if the following information could be forwarded, in the event LMCI's services are arranged:
1) anticipated annual production of shrimp feed;
2) anticipated peak monthly production of shrimp feed;
3) current hours per day and days per week of mill operation;
4) current peak production, tonnes per week;
5) existing mill flow diagram;
6) existing mill layout plan;
7) existing machinery list (inventory);
8) boiler capacity (lbs of steam per hour);
9) existing ingredient list; and
10)proposed additional ingredients for shrimp feed.
Items 9 and 10, above, would require interaction with LMCI's consultant addressing the nutritional aspects of feed development. Receipt of the above information could elicit other questions, but much preliminary work could be accomplished prior to a visit.
TASK II: DISEASE EVALUATION
LMCI is unique as a provider of technical assistance in that one of its key personnel is a certified and licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and, therefore, can prescribe treatment for aquaculture diseases. Most hatcheries and facilities currently maintain some form of disease evaluation program in order to stay abreast of the rapidly changing profile of diseases impacting shrimp mariculture. Of equal importance is an ability to interact with government regulatory agencies. LMCI offers the unique capacity to assist clients in achieving both of these criteria.
It is envisioned that LMCI interaction with clients in terms of disease management would involve the following:
1) preliminary evaluation of disease status of operations;
2) training of personnel in the inspection of shrimp for disease symptoms;
3) development of a custom-designed disease prevention/diagnosis program for each production facility;
4) on-site periodic disease inspection; and
5) interaction with regulatory agencies for importation/exportation of product.
In terms of processing plants and feedmills, LMCI is completely familiar with new advances in rapid detection methodology for FDA-identified human health pathogens. Under normal conditions, LMCI would require about 2-3 weeks of consulting service for each production center for completion of items 1,2, and 3, above.
TASK 12: DEVELOPNIENT OF HACCP-BASED OUALITY PROGRAMS
LMCI personnel are uniquely familiar with this type of service. This service typically applies to seafood processing plants and feed mills, but should be anticipated as necessary for other production facilities such as production ponds and even hatcheries. It is proposed that the scope of work LMCI could provide to clients for this service could include, but not be limited to the following:
1) Evaluation of sources of raw product.
2) Evaluation of raw product and its potential for contamination via human health hazards (as per FDA guidelines).
3) Evaluation of current processing/production methodology (type and extent).
4) Evaluation of processing/production equipment.
5) Evaluation of current quality program and QA/QC facilities.
6) Identification of critical and non-critical control points.
7) Preparation of HACCP Plans for product surveillance.
8) Training of QA/QC staff in typical regulatory (FDA/EPA/NMFS) procedures.
9) Application to certified inspection programs (e.g., NAIFS Inspection Program for processing plants).
10) Inspection program verification.
11) Inspection program validation.
12) Development of a data assimilation and analysis program.
13) Continued assistance in industry developments.
Preparation of official HACCP Plans would require about three weeks
of work at LMCI offices with some interaction between LMCI and clients
via facsimile transmissions. Training of QA/QC personnel in typical analytical
procedures would require a trip to the client country and about 2-3 weeks
of work. Items 10 and 11 would not necessarily require the presence of
an LMCI representative, but a certain amount of instruction would be required
with respect to interaction between the client, LMCI and any regulatory
agency. The development of a data assimilation
and analysis program would require about one week of work on-site in the client country with QA/QC, production and administrative staff. Continued assistance in industry developments could be via short-term presentations or reports submitted to upper management members of plant staff on an as-need basis.