Robotics have penetrated almost every sector in the food supply chain. Robots have changed food production right from the farm to processing and handling processed foods. They have improved food safety, and machines can now complete sanitation since most of the work.
Although robots have enhanced many processes in food production, many food industries have been reluctant and others slow in adopting robots. The food industry has set high safety standards that robot manufacturers have to meet before they are allowed to sell robots in the food industry. The robotic industry has been making the necessary adjustments, and now many food industries can reap the benefits of robotization.
Food manufacturing companies that won’t join the robotization bandwagon risk falling behind as others remain competitive. Food companies have a duty of feeding over 7.5 billion people. This calls for a lot of automation if they have to meet the ever-rising demand for food products. Food manufacturers have to streamline the efficiency in their production lines to ensure the delivery of high-quality and sustainable foods. Here are some ways robotics are changing the food industry.
The food production process usually begins at the firm. Robots are used right from the firms to help farmers in producing large quantities of high-quality food products. Robots in the agriculture sector are used to complete various tasks such as seedling, identification, and sorting. Weeding robots, autonomous tractors and harvesting robots are also used in food production.
Researchers are also looking into the possibility of using drones to pollinate crops. These measures will go a long way in ensuring the production of sufficient foods to feed the ever-growing population. Recently, robots were introduced in the beef, dairy, and poultry farms to boost production. Many large firms are already using autonomous milking, feeding, and egg collection machines.
Robots have been used in manufacturing beverages for many years. They are mainly used in bottling, robotic machine tending, and palletization. In other food companies, robots are used in sorting, cleaning, blending, and packaging of food products. However, most of the robots are used in secondary food processing applications such as baking, mixing, and removing defects.
Robots can be used in almost every food processing company for food packaging. The development of robotic machine tending has made it possible to automate the whole packaging process. Robots can be used to sort, pick-and-place items in packaging material, put them into boxes and arrange them in groups for shipping. Food packaging is a labour-intensive process, and the use of robots in the packaging process will help to increase speed and also save on labour costs.
Quality control is a critical process in the food industry. Compromising the quality of food products can put the entire population at risk of suffering from foodborne diseases. Many companies have put stringent measures to guarantee food safety, but yet we encounter cases where food companies have sold contaminated food to the public.
Due to the delicate nature of this process, many food companies are focusing on replacing human workers with collaborative robots, especially in areas where there’s need to handle processed foods. Using robots help reduces the risk of food contamination since they limit human contact with the food. Many studies have confirmed that workers are the primary source of food contamination.
Use of robots in the food industry doesn’t end in the production line. Robot manufacturers are already producing robots that can be used in food delivery. Some fast-food retailers are on the experimentation stage of using robots to make deliveries.
Although autonomous food delivery may seem far-fetched, robot manufacturers are making progress in producing robots that can be used to deliver foods within a short time. If the current reports are anything to buy, customers will be receiving their deliveries within a few minutes after placing an order. These developments will help to add functionality, improve worker safety, improve productivity, and make the food industry more efficient.