When thinking about ways that industrial robot arms are used, the meat industry may not spring to mind. Most likely, people think first of automotive or electronics manufacturing. However, the meat industry is currently using industrial robotic arms, and is planning to integrate even more automation in the near future.
Many of these industrial robot arms are in meat-processing plants and are used to carve up animal carcasses. For example, Jarvis is a hoof cutting robot. This Motoman 50kg robot arm has a vision system and cutting blades to automatically cut hooves off of beef carcasses that come in to be processed. According to a report from Marel Food Systems, this system has been in most major meat-processing plants since late 2007.
Another industrial robot arm is used to scribe bee, a job that is not only tedious and demanding, but can also be hazardous to humans, and requires extreme accuracy. The Beef Scriber is an industrial robot arm that is fit with a tungsten tipped circular saw and 3D laser sensors.
The plan of the industry is to make these kinds of robotic industrial arms more available to smaller markets, and make them more universal for meat processing.
While this process is highly automated already, the meat industry would like to further automate their system, and is currently devising leaner, more efficient ways to break down and debone various animal carcasses.
RobotWorx, a certified integrator of FANUC, Motoman and KUKA robotics, has several industrial robot arms available for customization and purchase. Many of the models available are food-grade and able to work in meat-processing and other food and agricultural industries.