How Does Robotics Overcome Hurdles in Food Processing Industry?
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How Does Robotics Overcome Hurdles in Food Processing Industry?

By CIOReview | Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Robots deployed in the food sector should be built to meet these specifications, which can be costly for the firms developing them.

FREMONT, CA: Industrial and collaborative robots are rapidly being used in primary and secondary processing applications in the food sector. Robotic automation has infiltrated many industries worldwide, with the food processing industry being one of the last frontiers for robotic automation.

Throughout the food supply chain, both industrial and collaborative robots can be deployed. Food processing, on the other hand, has traditionally been the most difficult to automate. Recent technical advancements, however, are overcoming these challenges.

The food processing sector has multiple problems that restrict the adoption of automation and robotics at different phases of the conversion process. Food manufacturers frequently work with a wide range of raw materials. Mixing ingredients, which is historically done by hand handling and weighing, is a key aspect of primary food preparation.

Another crucial consideration is the intellectual property connected with a particular item and cooking secrets known only to a select few. Businesses are hesitant to share sensitive information with a digital system, prone to failures and data theft. Washing is a critical requirement for food-handling technologies. Sanitization of any surface that comes into touch with food is required by law, and this is commonly done with caustic chemicals. Robots deployed in the food sector must be built to meet these specifications, which can be costly for the firms developing them. As a result, both capital and operating expenses are considerable.

What Role Does Robotics Play in Overcoming These Obstacles?

High-precision robotics, machine learning, and computer vision systems are becoming more popular as inventive and flexible ways to improve ingredient handling processes. For example, one electronic manufacturing firm has developed an effective ingredient handling system that involves smart containers where individual ingredients are decanted and stored. The robot takes the contents out of the container and weighs them in a robotic blender according to the recipe entered into the system. With a weighing precision of +/- 0.1 grams, the system can store 500+ ingredients. These containers include a built-in cleaning mechanism and can hold many recipes. Furthermore, the owner can program the recipes, ensuring total confidentiality and intellectual property protection.