Robotic technologies have proven the critical role they play in food and beverage packaging industry. Although it still lacks the ability to monitor and manage the assembly line, many trends have enhanced the skills of the robots.
FREMONT, CA: Robots have been around for a while now, working their way through several industries slowly but surely. The packaging industry is one among those that have adopted the robots in a gradual progression. The slow development of robotics in food and beverage is mainly due to the stringent and complex rules surrounding the practices followed.
As automation picked up its pace in packaging, robots have become increasingly attractive. An ideal location for the robots in the assembly line is at the end of it—palletizing. Since the robotics advanced, resulting in smaller units which are faster, economical, and more versatile, the uses for the technology is practically anywhere.
Trends in both robotics and packaging are transforming continuously. Robotics, which was once expensive, exotic, and futuristic are at present, becoming an off-the-shelf commodity. The production and distribution of robots for packaging uses are becoming more central to the major players in the market. The transforming trends in packaging, labor shortages, and an enhanced interest in the benefits of robotics have fuelled the changes in the sector.
1. Robotics: From Weight Lifting to Flexible Tasks:
Robots were first adopted in the industry to fulfill responsibilities that humans could not efficiently carry out. Operations like palletizing and packing. As technology advanced, robots have gotten improvements which allow the machines to take on more and more dexterous tasks. From picking and placing of all shapes of food to complex operations like de-panning and de-nesting ranges the portfolio of the robot. This ability makes the robot capable of conducting a task, any role in primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging.
The machines are given the mantle from the laborers as it is much accurate, stealthy, and follows a uniform consistency. The delta robots are the most popular of robots since the 1980s with the capacity to execute at least 300 picks per minute. The latest improvement in the robot mechanisms is the vision system, by using ML for the vision system with the robot to make better decisions using the data to pick the product or the piece. These enhancements allow robots to function beyond merely being able to choose the objects from a predetermined location and orientation. Not only can it see the objects that are scattered randomly on a belt; with the advent of three-dimensional vision, the objects no longer need to be on a belt at all.
Flexibility in the robot is also a boon for the packaging industry, as the option of which work the robot needs to execute can be decided by a flick of a switch.
2. Manufacturing the Essence of Teamwork with Cobots:
Until the early 2000s, robots were designed to be a standalone, pre-programmed contraption that was differentiated from employees for health and safety reasons. Then along came the innovative and fresh idea of cobots. A “cobot” or a collaborative robot extinguishes the need for a barrier around the perimeter. These robots are coded to stop as soon as the smallest disruption is felt. The cobots are armed with proximity sensors, a panel with a touch screen that allows smooth operation for the employees. These robots are easier to maintain and much safer to work with.
In food and beverage packaging, cobots are maximizing the cost efficiency by lowering the production costs and decreasing the wastes in both raw materials and products.
3. Product Life Cycle Expansions and Enhanced Shelf-Ready Packaging:
The many transformations in the industry have had an impact on robots. The main reason for the same is the extra attention devoted to the enhancement of shelf life and shelf-ready packaging. It allows an efficient stocking when delivered to the retailer in the same way products are optimized. The industry has been giving attention to the demand that exists at present. By creating product lines with lower shelf life, which requires swift changes to operating lines that robots can deliver. The new age robots can convert and facilitate the move from high-volume low-mix to low-volume high-mix because of the newer and creative innovations.
4. Looking into the Future of Packaging Robots:
Significant technological innovations like AI, big data when infused into packaging will not improve the efficiency; the mechanical working converts into smart functioning of the robots. The focus is shifting steadily on to how the robots can be interconnected, increase coordination, and efficiency across the board. To materialize the idea, innovators have chosen to integrate IoT with robotics. The aim is to connect the electrical device to a local network, and a cloud-based system for capturing of data. The cloud enables the connection between robots and users to track the performance and evaluation of systems.
With the integration of advanced technologies, Robots possesses an untapped potential for packaging lines. The critical concern mainly lies among the creators and innovators to re-configure the thought from the beginning. The robots should be brought in front of the spotlights and not be treated as an expendable in the process of packaging in the food and beverage industry.