With the US Food Safety Modernisation Act signed into law authorising the Food and Drug Administration to inspect food production facilities, robotic technologies are increasingly becoming the systems of choice for US food processors to ensure food supplies are consistently safe, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).
While robotic technologies have been used in industries for decades, their use in the food sector has recently increased dramatically, according to a growing base of RIA members.
“Do not think food processing is too complex for robots,” Brian Huse, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the RIA. “The more complex a process the more one should consider a robot.”
In addition to food processing, robotics are useful in the areas of picking, case packing and palletizing, according to Dick Motley of FANUC Robotics America.
“Robots are actively forming food products, such as butchering meat,” Motley told RIA. “Penetration of robots upstream from end of line palletising has been made possible by higher performance robots.”
Clay Cooper from Applied Robotics said robotics was also helping food processors to ensure safer food supplies.
“Robots do not sneeze or get colds,” Cooper told RIA. “Reducing people in food plants reduces the propagation of germs and bacteria there.”