Robotic automation solutions include automated picking solutions, machine perception, and artificial intelligence (AI). Such transformational robotic automation solutions can enable machine builders to solve the hardest piece-picking problems in many industries—including food & beverage processing.
Gray partners with Soft Robotics, an award-winning technology company that designs and builds robotic solutions. We sat down with Rick Graff, senior product manager, Automations, and Greg Powers, vice president, Solutions Architecture, of Gray Solutions, A Gray Company; as well as Austin Harvey, director of product management for Soft Robotics Inc., to talk about the various benefits of such collaboration, and how embracing robotic automated solutions can help move the food and beverage industry into the future.
Benefits of Automation in F&B
The use of industrial automation, particularly as it relates to food and personnel safety in the food production facility of tomorrow, offers many benefits and returns on investment. “Those benefits and corresponding returns include reduction/mitigation of ergonomic injuries, reduction or elimination of human contact directly with the food product, and increased production due to continuous operation,” said Graff and Powers.
Moreover, many workers are learning to work alongside these sophisticated machines and systems of the future—often even embracing them. “These applications, through the use of both standard and collaborative robots, allow the worker of tomorrow to augment many tasks that were traditionally (or previously) difficult for a human to perform,” they stressed.
There are safety benefits to automation, for both personnel and the product itself. Many tasks that typically require lifting heavy objects can result in injury-related claims; the use of a robot to accomplish these tasks is becoming more and more a reality.
And, with the introduction of the Food Modernization and Safety Act (FSMA), coupled with increased fears about the spread of viruses in the food supply chain, industrial automation is more critical than ever. Austin Harvey points out: “Labor shortages have always challenged the food manufacturing sector, but the Covid-19 pandemic has placed increased pressure on the market. Industrial automation in primary packaging can significantly reduce the risk of food contamination.”
To read more about the automation of food and beverage facilities, check out the rest of this story here on Gray.com.