Industrial Cobots are robots designed to work alongside humans in the production line. Cobots are specifically made to assist workers to perform repetitive and heavy tasks more efficiently. Food production is perhaps the largest beneficiary of the advancements in human-robot coordination through collaborative robotic solutions.
The food production industry relies heavily on efficiency and speed since most food products tend to have a short shelf life. Most food producers know how important and profitable it can be to find cost-effective ways of minimizing time to market. Collaborative robots don’t just minimize time to market for food producers, they can also be used to standardize the quality of end products, expand output varieties in the production line, perform hazardous tasks and increase production numbers to meet customer demands among many other functions.
In order to appreciate the value proposition for Collaborative robots in food production, let’s take a look at each of these areas in detail and give some practical examples where Cobots are used in food production.
Cobots In Food Production: The Value Proposition
Reducing Time to Market
If there is one thing that most food producers stress over is the time to market. Food is a unique product in many ways. Most food products are perishable, the longer they stay in the production line the more likely they will spoil leading to losses. Some food items also lose their value with time. For instance, most people prefer to have fresher fruits and vegetables.
Some food items have a limited demand window. Good examples include things like turkey which is consumed in large volumes during Thanksgiving, some fruit varieties like dates are in demand during certain times of the year. There are seasonal and trendy food items as well.
Small food factories have often struggled to reduce their time to market due to overreliance on manual labor. Collaborative robotic solutions have finally come to their rescue. Industrial robots for sale of the collaborative nature are much cheaper and easier to implement than traditional industrial robotic solutions.
Automation has always been the most effective way of standardizing quality in most industries. Since human beings tend to struggle with consistency especially when performing repetitive tasks, Cobots are used to help them achieve a higher level of consistency leading to standardized end products across the board. There is no reason why the previous burger should be slightly heavier than the previous one or have a lesser number of toppings, quality standardization is great for customers and for the bottom line.
Expanding Output Varieties
Cobots enable workers to be more creative with their end products in food factories trying to innovate new products. There is no limit to the amount of customization that can be done to a collaborative robot. End effectors are usually interchangeable and come in varieties. A factory can construct or order a bespoke end effector to perform a unique function to aid innovation.
Food factories are using bespoke Cobot setups to innovate and produce new products every day. Most industry experts agree that robots aren’t just meant to replace human workers. They are supposed to allow them to engage in more creative tasks using robots as a tool.
Increasing Production Numbers
By performing repetitive tasks with higher speed and efficiency, collaborative robots can help factory workers increase their productivity. There are shining examples out there of how small food producers have deployed Cobots and significantly boosted production rates within a short period. Examples include companies such as Axium Foods-a corn-based snack food manufacturer in Illinois, Atria Plc- A Finnish food production company and many others.
What Cobots Do in Food Production Industries
To finalize, we look at some practical examples of tasks Performed with the help of Cobots in food production industries;
- Packaging and labeling food items
- Sorting ingredients
- Mixing and blending
- Analyzing raw materials
- Picking and placing items
- Decorating food items such as cakes and pastries
- Among others.
There is no doubt that Cobots will not only transform but revolutionize the food production industry. Small players will no longer be that small since they can now access these new automation solutions much more easily than before. Collaborative robots give an opportunity for food producers big or small to streamline the production processes allowing skilled personnel to tap into their creativity to innovate future food.