Top Robotic Applications In Food Processing

Read about the most popular robotic applications in food manufacturing and how these processes benefit from automation.

Top Robotic Applications In Food Processing


Food manufacturers focus on either primary or secondary food processing. Primary food processing converts raw agricultural goods into consumable food products, like butchering meat. Secondary food processing takes the primary food ingredients and combines them to create new consumables, like hotdogs. Food processing is constantly evolving to be quicker and more efficient to meet increasing demands. Automation has significantly advanced food industry applications by increasing sanitation, increasing production, and improving quality. As a result, food manufacturers turn to automation for butchery, pick and place, and palletizing.

Robotic Butchery Cutting Applications

Butchering requires precision and knowledge of the animal's anatomy to remove all unwanted parts and create the best cuts from the carcass. Meat and poultry manufacturers utilize automation to increase cut-efficiency and product quality. Automatic meat processing uses automated tools and pre-programmed outlines of the animal carcass to make the appropriate cuts to meat and remove the bones.

Scott, the parent company to RobotWorx, takes this a step further, using x-rays, vision technology, and automated machine learning to enhance the robot’s cut accuracy, recreating the quality of an experienced butcher. Scott’s robotic assembly line first develops a 3D model of the carcass and identifies where the robotic tool will need to cut. The longer the system runs, the more it will learn and apply when making cuts to the product. An example of Scott’s innovative technology is its case study on automated lamb bone removal. This breakthrough would replace the manual labor of making cuts by hand with an automated machine. Advanced meat automation from companies like Scott eliminates excess waste, ensures safety for assembly workers, increases sanitation, and improves production output. It is clear why so many meat and poultry manufacturers are turning to automation for automatic processing.

Packaging Pick and Place Applications

To keep a high standard for quality control, food manufacturers need to sort and package batches of products quickly and efficiently. Top robotic brands have developed their series of robots, specifically designed for the food industry, that allow these manual processes to be automated. Pick and place robots can use a combination of vision technology and food-specific tooling to sort through products, putting them in their packaging or on a conveyor belt. The speed and accuracy of pick and place robots are unrivaled, delicately handling products like fish fillets at 100 per minute, without damaging or affecting their quality. Just nine of these robots in an assembly line would package up to 900 fish fillets per minute. At the same time, vision software allows the robots to perform quality control, avoiding undersized or misshapen fillets. The design of these robots is made to handle unpackaged food without contamination and withstand heavy sanitation compliance with food safety standards. The precision and adaptation of pick and place systems are ideal for food manufacturers to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for food products, making the application so popular within the industry.

Transportation and ShippingPalletizing

Palletizing is at the end of most manufacturing production lines. The food and beverage industry is no different, needing palletizing to stack and send off goods to be transported. These products are then shipped domestically, internationally, or both. With robotic palletizers, manufacturers can move products at a faster rate without the risk of product damage. With the advancement of robotic grippers, even fragile products can be palletized at the end of the line.

A case study done through Scott showcases the success of automated palletizing at James-Strong Kyabram, the largest supplier of infant formula and nutritional powder packaging in Australia. The robotic palletizing solution allows James-Strong Kyabram to palletize 300 cans of formula in a minute. Systems like this are becoming more popular within the food processing industry, and for a good reason, it’s efficient and boosts production quality.

Automation In Food Processing

Food processing sectors see rapid growth in the market, with it being estimated to reach $4.1 trillion by 2026. In response, robotic applications being used in food processing will continue to increase as well. For more information on automated integration, contact the experts at RobotWorx online or at 740-251-4312.

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