Robotic automation has been taken to a higher level as a result of the game changing robotic models from Universal Robots known as the collaborative robots or cobots. These robots can work safely alongside employees since they are easy to operate and portable for faster redeployment to other areas of production.
The frequent changes in the final consumer products are making the production process in many industries to shift towards the high mix and low volume production system. This emphasizes on the need for the production facility of any industry that really wants to be competitive, be able to adapt and change fast.
The use of cobots can be of great benefit in automating the production activities of any industry. In fact the numerous benefits collaborative robots offer, has made Universal Robots gain a worldwide respect and recognition in the industrial robotics industry.
Cobots in the Food and Agriculture Industry
Collaborative robot arms are very useful in the food production chain. They are currently being used in food supply chain that includes production, processing, and distribution. The cobot arms are updating the food and agriculture industries to the ultra-modern level of technology enabling them to fulfill the standards that food and agriculture industries demand while improving the final quality of the food products.
The cobots also free up employees from the repetitive and risky tasks involved such as packaging and palletizing the food products. They even save them from harsh food production environment that involve very hot/heat cold and health hazard tasks. The palletizing robots can take over risky and dull jobs thus reducing repetitive strain and accidental injuries, whilst enabling workers to engage in better duties.
During the busy seasons, collaborative robots operate round the clock, achieving non-stop productivity. They are easy to deploy and re-program when needed in different tasks making them consistent workers who improve consistency while reducing waste.
A Case study of a food company enjoying the benefits of cobot use
Orkla Foods Sverige, Kumla
On January 1, 2014, Orkla Foods Sverige was established after a successful integration of 3 food companies Abba Seafood, Procordia Food and Frödinge. Based in Eslöv, this company has a number of its production plants throughout Sweden. Currently, they are found in Eslöv, Tollarp, Fågelmara, Frödinge, Kungshamn, Örebro, Vansbro and Kumla. Among the different merchandise, the Kumla manufacturing facility specializes in the production of vanilla cream.
The challenge faced
Before Orkla Foods Sweden acquired the UR10, the vanilla cream bags were packed manually inside the cartons. The challenge was to find an automation solution that would work well with other production machines in a network alongside their personnel without the need for safety installations.
After getting a tip from a local business, Orkla Foods saw a demonstration of the UR10 and were impressed. They immediately acquired the UR10 collaborative robot which automated their production process by packaging the bags in cartons.
The cobot arm works independently but is part of a network that has a carton erector and a carton sealer which is fed with the aid of a filling system. Things are now simpler with the UR10 since it enables the organization to streamline and eliminate the heavy lifting and tiresome repetitive obligations for the workers.
The best thing about the cobot is that apart from being flexible and easy to program, is that the cobot automatically stops in case you come near it meaning it is very safe and does not need any protective guarding around it.
The return on investment which the company achieved for the UR10 was in a period of six months. Now the cobot helps Orkla foods, Kumla to streamline their production and achieve operational stability in the packing of food products in cartons.
Fortunately, many Industries and companies all over the world, food and agriculture included, upon realizing the benefits collaborative robots have to offer are embracing cobot use.