The food sector is quickly evolving, and food demand is expected to be quite high when the world population hits 8 billion people. On the other hand, people want better, sustainable, and healthier food; therefore, food suppliers are under constant pressure to fulfill their customers’ needs while at the same time improving their profit margins.
The industry has been hesitant to implement automation compared to other areas such as manufacturing. Fortunately, modern robotics has made its way into practically every component in the global food production chain in the last few years, from the field to the kitchen.
Critics argue that robots in food processing will eliminate human workers from the entire process. However, this argument is misleading since collaborative robots are living up to their name by working smoothly alongside the human workers, thereby promoting a mutual working relationship that is very efficient,
The only difficult aspect of food automation is thoroughly cleaning each piece of equipment to prevent contamination. On the other hand, Universal Robots aims to make their robot casings smoother, with superior designs and no stray wires. It makes it possible to clean them before and after every cycle fully.
A Closer Look at the UR5e Cobot
This cobot is portable and adaptable, with a maximum ability to lift any object that weighs not more than five kilograms. Its robot arm can enable the user to manage tedious tasks.
The UR5e cobot is frequently used to optimize moderate tasks like handling small-weight goods. It has a functional radius of around 33.5inches (850mm), letting it access anything close to its vicinity in the working environment, thereby making it an extremely valuable tool in creating additional assistance to the company utilizing its services. Similarly, the UR5e has a basic programming feature that is user-friendly to almost everyone.
Here are Five Common Collaborative Robot Applications in the Food Processing Industry
Because each animal carcass is unique, butchery is a challenging activity to automate. An experienced butcher, on the other hand, knows when to adjust each Slice to the curve and location of meat and bones.
Some butchery processes are considerably simpler than others, such as high-volume chicken leg deboning, which has become a staple of the meat processing business.
Beef producers have recently been searching for ways to integrate Universal Robots collaborative robots into their operations to reduce employee risk, as most process elements are quite risky for humans.
Rib cutting, for example, necessitates several hours of operation with a high-speed circular saw. Cobots with motion control can now help automate butcheries.
Fruits and Vegetables
Because of their varying sizes and forms, farm produce was difficult to manage using the standard robot concept since fruits and fresh vegetables need careful handling, which is easier for humans to accomplish.
In collaboration with other researchers, recent improvements from Universal Robots contribute to the current dynamic gripping technologies and can even handle delicate foodstuffs.
To Cut and Slice
It’s simple to automate basic cutting and slicing/peeling procedures. Even domestic food processors, for example, may slice vegetables into consistent shapes. This form of simple automation does not necessitate the use of robots.
The food sector has relied mainly on human labor for more complex cutting or slicing, but the UR5e robots are entering the field. For instance, the customization of the UR5e cobot is quite helpful in the fish cutting industry; that can detect and eliminate fish faults and cut fillets to uniform shapes and sizes.
The use of the UR5e robot in cake decoration is an amazing application of collaborative robotics adoption. The robotic arm is used to piping and icing flavors and decorative to a cake, similar to a 3D printer.
Making of Pizza
Artisan food manufacturers are often concerned that incorporating robots into their processes may reduce the artistic quality of their products. But the Silicon Pizza manufacturer disagrees by demonstrating how cobots may be employed in pizza production to create pizzas that appear to have a human touch.
Their pizzeria includes two UR5e robots: one for spreading the ketchup, and the other oversees the pre-baking ovens. Even though their technology is far from being automated, they have succeeded in making the pizza-making process less tiresome and more productive.
A Case Study of a COMPANY in the Food Industry That Benefits from the Use of the UR5e Cobot
Cascina Italia is an egg processing company that handles millions of eggs every day. Cascina Italia had to react fast to changing market needs due to the highly competitive aspect of the fresh produce sector.
The organization needed to optimize its internal processes to free up important resources while maintaining efficiency. The traditional robot arm proved too costly and difficult to integrate into their production environment. Because they had limited capacity for extra equipment, any solution they chose had to be in the same working space as their personnel.
Cascina Italia chose the UR5e model because it can provide the desired solution for box preparation on the packing facility factory line. The installation of the UR5e robot arm at their most busy output stations on the production line was a game-changer in their overall production process. It now processes about 1.5 million eggs every day.
The cobot installation was very beneficial in accomplishing the company’s goal of relieving facility employees from one of the most tedious processes of preparing big packages during large-scale distribution.
The UR5e robot arm is now filling boxes with 145 cartons of 10 eggs each. The cobot’s modest and compact design allows it to be instantly put in the work area without taking up important space.
The use of cobots is beneficial in the food industry since they bring the agriculture and food industries up to date with cutting-edge technology, allowing them to fulfill the high standards that customers want while also increasing the final product quality.
According to recent surveys by Food Handlers Association, about half of the organizations in this sector intend to adopt automation in the next five to ten years fully. Therefore, the industry is expected to continue using smart robotic automation in large quantities.
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