Vibration Assisted Clam Harvesting

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2002-33610-12420
Agency Tracking Number: 2002-03062
Amount: $0.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2002
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
500 Wynn Drive, Suite 504, Huntsville, AL, 35816
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Peter Weiland
 (256) 704-3411
Business Contact
 George Clark
Title: President
Phone: (256) 704-3403
Research Institution
During the Phase I effort of the Vibration Assisted Clam Harvesting effort, it was shown that the employment of vibrations for mechanical clam harvesting is environmental sound, economically feasible, less stressing on workers, and addresses pressing industry needs. The overall goal of the Phase II effort is to advance the development of the vibratory approach by developing the necessary supporting technologies to have a completely integrated system capable of harvesting clams on a commercial scale. The availability of such a system may have far reaching industry impacts and may cause changes in farming techniques to capitalize on this revolutionary capability. With these goals in mind, the technical objectives focus both on hardware development and farming procedures. Technical objectives include the development of a variable vibratory control system to account for varying substrate conditions, means for tracking the harvester through the clam bed when the system is out of visual sight (underwater) and an overall control scheme to synchronize the action of the harvesting head with the mobility platform (watercraft or walk-behind unit). This program will develop a vibratory system that is adaptable to different soil conditions by providing feedback and controlling both the amplitude and frequency of the vibrations. The overall control scheme must incorporate, not only these vibratory factors, but also the adaptability in forward motion of the harvester and control of the `ground pressure' of the harvester. The objective is to optimize the interaction of these physical parameters of the harvester over a wide variety of conditions to increase the system functionality, utility and appeal. The ultimate objective of this effort is the commercialization of capability. Our commercialization strategy is designed to allow for the development of a modular system to accommodate a variety of harvesting conditions with appeal to different-sized clam farming operations. An initial design developed in Phase I consisting of vibrating tines will serve as the baseline for further development. This design meets our requirements for a generalized harvesting head design that is scalable to different sized farming operations and can be incorporated into different mobility platforms. In addition to determining the physical requirements of the harvester, research will explore changes in planting techniques. Clams are currently planted in a manner to support manual harvesting. With the availability of an acceptable automated harvester, planting techniques and clam-bed configurations may be changed to optimize harvesting operations. This Phase II effort will explore changes to farming techniques that support automated harvesting. During the Phase II program, economic and environmental aspects of the vibratory harvester will be explored. This will include collection of operating and life-cycle-cost and productivity data. This information will be collected during an extended operational demonstration to assess the impact of the approach on both the industry and environment.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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