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The Applications Of Robotics In Food Manufacturing And Processing

Food and Beverages | Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Industrial and collaborative robots are rapidly being used in primary and secondary processing applications in the food sector.

FREMONT, CA: Twenty years ago, it was difficult to conceive of a robot preparing breakfast or brewing one a cup of delectable coffee to wake one up. Today’s advanced technology can help bridge the gap between the human and robotic worlds by assisting humans rather than replacing them. Primary and secondary processing are distinct. Primary processing entails sorting, cleaning, and mixing raw food products such as meat, vegetables, and fruits, whereas secondary processing is making new food through cooking or baking.

Primary processing applications include the following:

Fruit selection and placement: Fruit and vegetable pick and place is one of the fastest expanding robotic applications. Cobots can perform the simple task of picking and placing objects, including those with unusual shapes, such as fruits and vegetables.

Cutting/slicing: Collaborative robots are a ground-breaking advancement in cutting and slicing technology. Food manufacturing is time-consuming and requires much physical labor, and cutting or slicing is an integral element of the laborious process. It can be exhausting and even dangerous for human workers to cut or slice for collaborative robots to eliminate production bottlenecks.

Secondary processing applications  include the following:

Adorning a cake: While cake decoration is a personal preference, a robotic alternative to manual embellishment is also worth exploring. Decorating a cake is a frontier of robotic automation since it saves time and increases food manufacturing efficiency in the long term.

Select and position: Picking and placement as a robotic application in food manufacturing encompass a variety of tasks, including picking raw materials (as noted previously) and other foods, such as classic Chinese dumplings.

Packaging: Food packaging is a robotic automation stack, as there is always a demand for food wrapping. Cobots can be used to automate a substantial portion of the food material handling process.

Obstacles in the food manufacturing and processing industries

Although food and beverage automation has advanced quickly in recent years, robotic arms and their associated accessory ecosystems have encountered numerous hurdles.

A deficiency in the development of a standardized ecosystem solution

The range of shapes and objects used in food processing necessitates the establishment of guidelines to ensure a healthy ecology. Collaborative robot deployment requires developing a complex system comprising several grippers and other accessories.

Inconsistency in the way a cooking process is carried out

A cooking process should follow a specific order; otherwise, it will be challenging to track down and modify the programming method.

The stockpiling unit is a finite resource

As customer demand grows, food and beverage makers continue to offer a variety of flavors and textures. This leads to increased SKU complexity and a requirement to stock a diverse range of tastes.

There are numerous hurdles to overcome when providing automation solutions in food manufacturing. However, to overcome these industrial obstacles, we should delve deeper into the industry's robotic applications.

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