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How is Robotics Revolutionizing the Poultry Industry?
In the new age egg industry, robots are commonplace, they perform tasks such as feeding the birds, transport, handling, and packaging eggs, and managing shed ventilation.
FREMONT, CA: Robotics in the poultry industry might sound like a far-fetched truth to many at this point. Still, in the chicken meat processing sector, robots perform many tasks like automatic transfer of carcasses and detection of defective carcasses. The utilization of robots is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years as other capabilities are developing that enhances the ability to monitor birds remotely.
Most of the poultry industry tasks were traditionally labor-intensive and involved actions by stock people; some tasks even involved heavy lifting. While mechanization allowed some of these tasks to be carried out more quickly, other tasks were completely automated, reducing the need for human supervision. Robotics is also applied in controlling the shed environment. Fully automatic systems are monitored by a computer that controls various sensors for temperature, humidity, gas levels, etc. Even ventilation is managed by the computer to maintain the environment according to the desired comfort levels.
Robot capability can range from semi-automatic to fully automatic. For instance, a semi-automatic system is the collection of eggs by a conveyor belt system. Although the system might automatically count the number of eggs passing a specific point, the robot does not make decisions regarding how it should operate. A fully automatic capability involves the autonomy of decision-making. The most advanced robotic systems might incorporate some form of artificial intelligence, aided by computer vision capability.
The poultry industry's biggest hurdle is to recognize the components of the production system, which can be monitored and controlled by robots, and which technology is apt to improve efficiency. The next step would be to test if this or similar technology can be extended to monitor the birds' health and welfare.
There are likely to be more challenges around computer capability. Coping with the massive input of data may be cumbersome, especially if the monitoring systems provide a continuous stream of real-time information. There is a chance that robots might not be able to monitor all the birds, so a lot of focus has to be given on sentinel birds.
To conclude, massive advances are taking place in the application of robotics to the poultry industry. Robotics has contributed to improving production efficiency, particularly from the perspective of reducing labor costs per bird.