With the digitization of the food and beverage industry, modern technology such as robots is being used to carry out different tasking in the sector, reduce cost, and fast pace the production.
FREMONT, CA: When we say robots, many people think of a metallic humanoid-like shown in science fiction. But in reality, robots or robotics are much more than just a humanoid creation. Today there is a branch of technologies that deal with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots. Especially robotic machines built to carry out specific tasks have evolved to fill up many niches. Therefore, any machine automation can be deemed as robotic.
Food Processing Applications
There are various advantages of using robots in food processing applications. Robots can work in harsh environments, which would be uncomfortable for humans.
Robotics is currently being used in food processing and is applied in meat processing, sorting, food handling, and performing particular applications, like cake decorating. Meat processing is an exciting application, in that meat is extremely variable in size, shapes, marbling, and fat distribution. Therefore, the meat application focuses on beef carcass butchering rather than preparing the cuts for retail sales. The human effort needed in butchering carcasses is massive, and the tools required are potentially hazardous. Butchers work in a cold environment and have to wear the appropriate garments to keep warm and essential personal protective equipment to protect themselves from any injury.
Another potential application for robotics is gripping and moving or placing various food products. Companies have designed robotic hands and arms to gently grab different products and place them into the appropriate package. These systems are currently being employed in producing operations, snack foods, bakery items, and proteinaceous products, like fish and meats. The robotic systems are much faster than humans, and there are no concerns about repetitive motion injuries.
Statistics show the use of robotics in food processing is rising at approximately 17 percent a year. The best potential applications for robotics are the ones that involve repetitive motions or actions and deal with products that are in a way uniform. With the rise in computer power and the expansion of artificial intelligence (AI), the application of robotics in the food industry will keep expanding.