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How Collaborative Robots Are Improving the Food and Agriculture Industry

Posted In Industrial & Technology - By Techtiplib on Friday, April 19th, 2019 With No Comments »

Universal Robots latest model of industrial robot arms are proving to be very reliable in the food production and supply chain which includes production, processing, and distribution

The collaborative robot arms or cobots are updating food and agriculture industries to the latest level of technology by fulfilling the criteria that food and agriculture sector demand while improving the quality of food production.

Living with Robots

The cobots are freeing up the sector’s work force from repetitive and dangerous tasks while saving them from working in harsh food production environments that involve heat, cold, or unpleasant work. These collaborative robots also take over dirty, dangerous, and dull jobs to eliminate repetitive strain and accidental injuries, while freeing up the human operators for qualitatively higher tasks.

During busy seasons the robots can operate around the clock, delivering non-stop productivity to businesses. They can also be deployed and re-programmed as needed across tasks and applications as often as needed.

Case Study of Two Companies in the Food and Agriculture Industry Using Cobots

1.     Nordic Sugar

Nordic Sugar is among the largest sugar factories in Europe. During the production season the testing department handles a total of 80,000 sugar beet samples. This monotonous task of weighing in the containers with pureed beet has been performed by robots since 1993. However, the technological advances in industrial robots meant that it was time for the company to replace the traditional model of robots with the modern ones.  

The company’s management wanted a robot which their employees could easily program for other tasks and place in production by themselves since their previous robot, needed the services of expensive specialists each time the company wanted to make a change and this was too costly.

When Nordic Sugar went looking for modern robots to automate the analysis of raw material samples, the most essential criteria was flexibility, user-friendliness, and a reasonable price tag.

The solution

Following a Universal Robot showcase of their industrial robots at a trade fair, Nordic Sugar decided to test the robot arm in their sugar analysis process. Today, three UR5s robots are in operation.

The UR5 robot scans the barcodes and picks up containers with sugar for analysis from scales to filters and back again. The process is done by a pneumatic gripper and a barcode scanner integrated into the robot’s end-of-arm tool.

Since the robots require no safety guarding employees can work right alongside them and the best thing is that they no longer have to call expensive experts when they need to change a robot’s task.

2.     Mjolkursamsalan Akureyri

Mjolkursamsalan Akureyri is Iceland’s biggest dairy; they were looking to automate some of their monotonous work in connection with planned modifications to their cream cheese production line.

The solution

The company has saved several man years of monotonous tasks after having deployed two UR5 collaborative robots in its production of milk products.

The first UR5 robot was installed as part of the modifications to the dairy’s cream cheese production line in 2011. The robot arm lifts four packs of cream cheese from a conveyor belt and places them in a plastic tray. 

Due to a high level of satisfaction from the first robot arm, a second UR5 was purchased in 2012. This additional robot takes the filled plastic trays and stacks them on a pallet which in turn relieves the dairy workers from even more monotonous work. 

UR robots are so simple to use and not having to build a fence around them is a big plus which has enabled the company to save approximately three man-years of monotonous work thanks to the two UR5 collaborative robots.

Conclusion

It is clear that collaborative robots offer the best solution in the automation of food and agriculture production. The above mentioned companies after acquiring the cobots are enjoying the benefits of using the robot arms as they have enabled them to increase their overall productivity and profitability.

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