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QUANTITY 431 tanks
The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) is a graduate university in Onna, Japan, established in 2011.
Its 500-acre campus has an interdisciplinary marine science laboratory with scientists from all around the world. Their research programs cover neuroscience, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computational science, environmental science, and biology. OIST marine research facility focuses on deepening the knowledge of the ocean and its inhabitants, leading to conservation strategies for marine environments and resources.
The system needed to house a variety of aquatic species, especially clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) and cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis).
The Marine Climate Change unit conducts research to understand the impact of environmental changes on ecosystems and develops technologies to mitigate these impacts. Researchers focus on studying how coral reef fish adapt to climate change, overfishing and urbanisation. They investigate changes in gene expression under different environmental conditions thanks to the heat wave simulator.
The Marine Eco-Evo-Devo unit investigates the evolution of metamorphosis from larva to juvenile in coral reef fish. Their research aims to understand how hormones control it and to compare global gene expression in different fish species. They also study the symbiotic relationship between anemonefishes and sea anemones by characterising sea anemone genomes.
The Computational Neuroethology unit uses computer simulations to investigate the neural mechanisms of animal behaviour, focusing on cephalopods like octopus, cuttlefish, and squid. Researchers study them by recording them on camera and analysing their behaviours quantitatively using machine learning tools.
To lead research protocol in each unit, fish tank rack systems had to be capable of remote temperature control and monitoring of all water quality parameters from a unified platform for both its experimentation tanks and its husbandry and life prey hatching tanks, each physically apart to prevent potential contamination. Besides, the fish tank monitoring system should help researchers streamline communication and improve scientific protocols and results.
Most functional needs are shared between units (e.g., 25 live prey tanks), but each also had specific requirements:
From writing the specifications to the effective commissioning of the system, this project happened over 14 months as follows:
The project’s second phase involved a three-day audit to gather all the critical technical information. The visit involved taking measurements of the premises to control the exact dimensions of the space and the position of existing water inlets and sewage drains.
Additionally, we evaluated the different access points, such as doors, windows, corridors, and lifts to gather enough information for the logistics of the installation (for instance, if we have to use a crane or a truck).
The audit also included meeting each research unit leader in person to ensure their specific needs and requirements were correctly understood. Meetings with support departments, including IT, operations, and procurement, are just as important to ensure smooth project coordination.
Typically, during the first phase of a project, after the purchase order, we go through a series of interviews with our client. In this case, it took us 2 weeks via video conferences. We analysed the requirements, needs and objectives to help clarify the client’s project and develop a solution that meets the client’s needs. As we drafted our first idea, we thoroughly planned our on-site visit.
During the initial design phase, our team focused on creating a preliminary piping and instruction diagram (PID) outlining the tank system’s functional aspects and a 2D schematic design based on the measurements taken during the on-site audit.
This process typically takes two weeks and involves multiple rounds of corrections with the clients to ensure that the design aligns with their needs and requirements.
We communicated to all internal and external providers all our technical requirements with millimetre precision. These requirements include inlet and outlet design, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, wall and floor technical coating, and LAN connections.
We then designed a 3D model based on double-verified measurements. Once we got our client’s signature on these specifications, we could launch the procurement with our providers and build the system on our side.
The production phase of the project took about 6 months. We first received the fibreglass pieces for the racks from our provider in France and then pre-built the components that would be assembled on-site.
We involved 8 team members specialising in plumbing, electricity, and controls to work full-time in our 1000m² workshop near Lyon. At the same time, we programmed its monitoring system based on the client’s specific needs.
Before packing everything, the system is thoroughly tested with water for weight and pressure resistance, with pipes tested up to 10 bars. A complete functional and electrical test of the automation system is always carried out to ensure the system’s correct operations.
We were 6 Luxaqua experts to work on-site with 6 local workers from Okinawa. The installation and commissioning took 3 months to complete between the assembly, the plumbing, the electrical work and OIST staff training.
During this phase, the exclusive fish tank monitoring system we developed was implemented to allow live reporting. It was pre-coded to 90% before arrival to ensure smoother final adjustments. Regular meetings with our clients were organised to provide seamless communication of the progress and deal with the challenges we could face.
It might sound like a long time, but one month wasn’t too much to prepare for shipping all the components. We ensured that each piece of the system was packaged with filmed wrapping and then grouped with others into custom-size NIMP15 wooden crates.
In total, we had 100 pieces split into 64 wooden crates to ship from France to Japan. The largest parcel measured 7.69 x 1.4 x1.4 m and contained long pre-assembled pipes with valves (to save time later on installation), and the smallest was 1x1x1m. We used 2.79×2.3×2.56m crates for most items to fit the 40 ft high cube containers we used for the shipping. We filled 12 containers: once loaded onto the ship at Fos-sur-Mer in the south of France, they were sent to Naha, Okinawa, in 6 weeks.
Despite our utmost care, three glass tanks broke during transportation, but we had anticipated this almost inevitable situation by including a dozen spares in the containers.
The project led to a multi-million-euro investment that fulfilled the client’s needs and attracted additional financing.
Recently, The Marine Climate Change unit concluded a collaboration with James Cook University in Australia.
The heat wave simulator project and the research fish husbandry were visited by the embassies of Italy and France in Japan, highlighting its significance in the international scientific community.
Here are some of the media coverage and scientific publications this new facility received: