How Robots Impact the Food Manufacturing Process

Kevin Lobo, FB Tech Review | Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Food processing companies are using robots to improve the safety of the employees and increase the quality of the food product. 

FREMONT, CA: Food manufacturing has evolved into complex systems that include preparation, cooking, sorting, packaging, and palletizing. Industrial robots are increasingly being used to save more time and space while enhancing the cleanliness and safety of the place.

Most of the time, food robots outperform humans in terms of efficiency when packaging food items, whether it's speed, consistency, or high levels of repetition. Robots are armed with intelligent vision systems that enable them to precise place a product on a conveyor belt. Sorting by color, shape, or size is another application for vision system robots.

Many businesses use industrial robots in various manufacturing processes, including food. The one suitable for the company depends on the nature of application and requirements like payload, work envelope, speed, accuracy, and whether vision controls are required. If the process needs a cleanroom environment, the robots can also meet those specifications.

Here are some of the ways robot is used in food processing. 

Agriculture

Growing and harvesting are the two most common agricultural applications for robotics. Several farmers are now using robotic sensors to detect different factors that are critical to efficient food production. Soil moisture, acidity, and temperature can all be monitored with the help of sensors. With more farmers implementing drip irrigation technology, the sensors could be connected to the system that provides water and nutrients as necessary. These systems are intended to make operations more efficient.

For several years, growers have used mechanical harvesting systems. It could be categorized as a robotics application. Mechanical harvesters have the disadvantage of collecting nonfood items.

Food processing applications

Robotics advocates frequently discuss the potential benefits of using robots in food processing applications. They indicate that robots can function in extreme environments that humans will find uncomfortable. Robots are also hygienic and can work more safely.

Meat processing, sorting, food handling (mainly fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens), and specific applications, like cake decorating, are some of the current applications for robotics in food processing. Meat processing is an intriguing application because meat varies significantly in size, shape, marbling, and fat distribution.

Another promising application for robotics is gripping, moving, or positioning various food products. Companies have developed robotic hands and arms that gently pick up multiple products and place them in the correct package.

Sorting for quality or other features is one of the best applications for robotic systems. Sorting technology has advanced tremendously in recent years. Sorters identify defects using lasers and various types of optics.

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