Collaborative robots are transforming the food and beverage industry in remarkable ways. Also known as cobots, these robots are designed to work alongside human beings. Most food and beverage (F&B) business owners hesitate to venture into production automation based on the misconception that robots are only suitable for large-scale operations and require huge capital investment.
However, collaborative robots are also suitable for small enterprises. Unlike the traditional robots, which are dangerous, bulky and enclosed, the collaborative robot is small and lightweight. It does not need many physical precautions related to the safety of human employees. Robots can easily integrate with humans at various processing stages.
Benefits of Robots in the Food and Beverage Industry
Automates Mundane Tasks
Collaborative robots are user friendly and easy to operate. You do not need to spend a lot of time installing the system. The installation process only takes about half a day. Moreover, they are dexterous. They can lift and move loads weighing up to fifteen kilograms. They also offer you great precision when following a pre-programmed path of motions such as cake decoration.
Human beings find repetitive tasks mundane. Collaborative robots, on the other hand, do not get tired or feel bored. This makes them more fit for monotonous labour-intensive tasks such as packaging. At the same time, human workers are more suitable for high-level responsibilities that require value judgement and rational decision-making.
As a food and beverage business owner, you probably have experienced the same challenges that other business owners participate in picking and placing food in reusable containers for supply in supermarkets.
These reusable containers have a unique bar code for every order being transported out of the company. Hence, the process of applying labels to each container is very important. However, it is just as monotonous, and human workers make numerous mistakes when they begin getting exhausted and bored.
While human workers cannot be relied on to carry out these tasks over a prolonged period, collaborative robot can effectively deal with this challenge with much convenience.
Fits even in Small Areas
Firstly, cobots are relatively safe. It is also a collaborative robot. Hence, you do not need to install protective fencing or put any safety devices around it to prevent accidental collisions at the workplace. Moreover, it fits in tight spots and therefore will not take up much of your company’s real estate.
Its Highly Compatible
The collaborative robots have programming that easily integrates with your company’s system. It can be programmed to do one task and also be reprogrammed to do other cumbersome mechanical tasks. Hence, your company’s overreliance on a human workforce that must be paid every month is reduced.
Increases the Rate of Production
It is also increases the rate of production. For example, using collaborative robot for labelling will increase the number of bottles that you can process every hour in a two-shift operation for all your working days without the need for any breaks. Such versatility and efficiency score bonus for an industrial robot.
Decreases Human Idle Time
Did you know that you could decrease the human idle time in your company by eighty five per cent with the collaborative robot? Unlike human beings, robots are not affected by strenuous activity, can work overtime and with minimal or no supervision.
Manually executed tasks can efficiently be completed quickly and accurately with excellent efficiency. Moreover, automation increases production and considerably reduces labour costs, increasing your return on investment and profits. Furthermore, you can recover the amount of investment used in installing UR robots in your F&B in just six months.
Until recently, it was impossible to use robots for delicate and fragile tasks such as picking eggs or e-commerce order fulfilment. However, you can now use the soft gripper robot to carry out light tasks such as handling fruits and eggs and picking oddly shaped and hard to grasp items such as bottles.
The soft grip robots have three interchangeable cups made of silicon that precisely pick up small objects below two kg. It has a precise touch that does not require an external supply of air. The flexible end-of-arm tooling comes in two configurations, a star and a four-fingered configuration. This robot is not only complex but also saves on costs too.
Flexibility in Manufacturing
The food and beverage industry requires flexibility due to the increased demand for personalized products and services. You need to constantly keep tabs with increased needs for personalization and dynamic consumer trends.
Collaborative robots can achieve manufacturing flexibility because they can easily be programmed and deployed to serve multiple functions. The ability of robots to do various tasks increases your variation output, lowers the cost of production and minimizes wastage and the time used manufacturing.
Enhances Safety in the Workplace.
Collaborative robots are designed with multiple safety features that make them safe to operate next to a human. They have sensors that detect obstacles ahead of them and avoid accidental collision by reducing their speed of motion.
The UR robots have safety monitors that enable them to stop when they sense the presence of human beings in their working areas. Therefore, integrating collaborative robots with the human workforce adds value to operations because it eliminates duplication and increases work safety by assigning complex and dangerous tasks to robots.
If you run a food and beverage business, you quickly need to tailor your products and services accordingly. However, tailoring products to meet the current demands is not enough. It would be best to keep up with trends, such as using robots in the intricate production process of picking delicate objects.
Collaborative robot technology is providing more and more solutions for industrial automation that are used in various applications. With time, the employees in your company will stop viewing collaborative robots as their enemies but rather embrace them as resourceful partners that make work easier and processes more efficient and economical and open up new possibilities for both the company and employees.