Reducing contamination in the workplace with robotics

Do robots have a place in food manufacturing?

The use of robotics in manufacturing has many cost-saving and efficiency benefits for businesses both big and small. Automating is a cost effective method of reducing waste and human error, resulting in a better quality of product.

For the above reasons, automation has been making great headway in the food and beverage industry. Robots have the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of contamination and improve the quality of food processing and production. At Design Energy, our customised systems can be implemented in your food industry application to offset contamination in two crucial ways:

Compromising the quality of food and food products can lead to costly wastage.

1. Reducing the risk of error at critical stages of manufacturing

Relying on humans at critical points of food handling and processing introduces human-based errors into the mix, which can spell disaster for food through contamination by germs, pathogens and foreign objects. Compromising the quality of food and food products can lead to costly wastage or unusable goods and in some cases, cause total recalls of products that have already been sent to the marketpalace.

In New Zealand and Australia, there were 72 incidents in 2016 where products had to be recalled, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, costing companies time, money and reputation. In the US alone, sickness resulting from contaminated food costs the nation $55 billion per year, according to Time Inc. Reducing contamination in food is therefore both an economic and social imperative.

Even for simple, repetitive tasks, there is potential for humans to make a mistake, which can lead to a negative impact on the quality of food products. Replacing these processes with reliable, automated robotics systems can therefore reduce this human-related risk to almost zero.

Robots can be used to improve the quality of food.Robots can be used to improve the quality of food.

2. Preventing cross-contamination

Having hands, feet, noses and mouths in and around food products poses a risk of contamination. This risk is offset by wearing protective clothing, thorough hand washing and avoiding direct skin contact with food products, to prevent the cross contamination of germs and pathogens.But, these acts only go so far as to minimise the risk of human contamination, says a report by the German Agricultural Society.

Robots are being increasingly used in the manufacturing and automation side of the food industry. Previously, robots were consigned to packaging and palletising, as the physical aspect of these machines made it easy for germs to hide and evade cleaning.

However, advancements today mean robots can have a role in every stage of manufacturing and in any industry. With the rise of what the German Agricultural Society calls 'hygienic design', the threat of cross contamination is much lower, opening the door for robotics in the processing and production of food.

Universal Robots lightweight collaborative robot arms are compliant for clean room environments.

Universal Robots certified for clean room application

After rigorous testing according to the international industrial guidelines for clean room technologies, we are pleased to announce that Universal Robots lightweight collaborative robot arms are compliant for clean room environments which can include food manufacturing processes.

"This certification will pave the way for a great number of new application opportunities for our robots. We have taken another important step towards making our affordable and user-friendly collaborative robots accessible for companies of all industries and sizes," says Esben H. Østergaard, CTO and co-founder of Universal Robots.

Design Energy are the leading suppliers of robots and automation processes in New Zealand. Alongside Universal Robotics we are the suppliers for Nachi robots and can provide your business with customised solutions perfect for any industry.

To find out more, start up a conversation with our team today.

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