Five Things to Consider Before Investing in Robotics for a Food Processing Plant
As the adoption of robotics and automation increases in the food and beverage industry, it is crucial to follow best practices to ensure successful implementation. Consider factors such as robot accuracy, repeatability, maintenance objectives, product dimensions, materials, temperatures, throughput requirements, and weight when selecting suitable robots. Understanding the positioning and location requirements of incoming products before they enter the robot's work cell is also important. Choose the appropriate type of robot based on accuracy, available space, product movement distance, gripping requirements, and maintenance needs. Collaborate with robotics vendors to determine the best end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) options, such as bellows, fingers, jaws, switchable magnets, and vacuum cups, depending on the product type and rigidity. Simulations and demonstrations with equipment suppliers can help determine the optimal robotics configuration for unique products and assess performance under specific production conditions. Standardizing network protocols across the entire facility facilitates commissioning, troubleshooting, and daily operations, ensuring compatibility and ease of integration with the plant's IT infrastructure. Following these best practices maximizes the benefits of robotics and automation while minimizing implementation challenges.