Benefits of Food Processing Robots

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The food industry in the past was one of the least automated as challenges such as irregular products, strict hygiene standards, and delicate foods largely prevented the adoption of industrial robots. However, improvements and new developments in robotic technology is now allowing the food processing industry to automate with industrial robots. Developments such as food-grade robots, soft finger grippers, and robotic vision systems have made food processing robots a reality. Industrial robots are being used to automate both primary and secondary food processing applications. Just as it has become common to see the FANUC Lr Mate 200id/7L along automotive production floors, it will soon be common to see theLR Mate 200id/7LC and other six axis robots in food processing facilities. Implementing food processing robots provides a number of benefits over traditional manufacturing practices.

  • • Eliminates Risk of Contamination - Even with strict cleanliness regulations, food borne pathogens remain a major issue for food manufacturers. Using manual labor for food processing increases the risk of cross-contamination even when strict hygiene protocols are followed. Workers can easily spread pathogens onto food or workstations. Automating with articulated robots eliminates the risk of contamination. Food-grade robots are completely sealed to prevent them from compromising food items. Work environments can be controlled and kept completely sterile with robots, but with humans it is nearly impossible. Robots can also be used to wash down machinery to prevent cross-contamination. Eliminating contamination risks prevents food manufacturers from costly recalls and factory shutdowns for deep cleaning.

  • • Can Handle Extreme Conditions - Industrial robots are able to handle the extreme conditions associated with some food manufacturing processes. These include sub-zero temperatures for meat processing as well as hot temperatures from high heat cooking. The FANUC M-20ib/25C can safely remove hot foods from ovens without the risk of burns. Worker safety is improved by automating hazardous tasks with robots.

  • • Lower Cost of Production - Automating food processing with robots will lower the cost of production. Robots eliminate labor costs along with reducing utility costs. They also produce higher yields, so more foods are processed in less time.

  • • Greater Consistency - Robots also improve the consistency of food processing. Food packages will contain the same amount of food and all will be packaged in the same way. Individual food items will be uniform to one another. More consistent food processing results in less waste for manufacturers which helps reduce production costs.

  • • Free Up Floorspace - Food processing facilities are often jam-packed with machinery and people, leaving very little floorspace. Workers are typically shoulder to shoulder increasing the risk of the spread of pathogens. Automating with robots will streamline production floors and free up space. A single FANUC M-2ia can replace multiple workers. Robots can also be wall, ceiling, or tabletop mounted.

  • • Improve Food Quality - Automating food processing with robots will improve food quality. The risk of food borne illnesses are significantly reduced with robots. Robots can also be used for quality control, removing unsatisfactory items before they are packaged and reach consumers. Sorting robots can identify spoiled fruits and vegetables, discarding them prior to being packaged. With robots all foods are processed in the same manner, ensuring quality standards are met.

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